By the time he was a senior at his high school in the Bronx, Osvaldo Adames ’15 had run out of math courses to take. During his junior year at Hamilton, where he majored in math and minored in Chinese, Adames grew to understand the gap in resources and opportunity students had faced at his former school, which hadn’t offered calculus, much less AP Calculus. At Hamilton the math-loving Adames was taking courses with plenty of students who’d studied calc in high school.
“Our school did not have students with a lot of money going there; we were all students of color, so I realized that it was certain issues related to public education that made it so that other students that looked different or had a different economic background had more resources and better classes than I did,” Adames says. He knew then that his calling was to return to the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice as a teacher.
At Hamilton a course called “The Black Self: Identity and Consciousness,” taught by Todd Franklin, the Johnson Excellence in Teaching Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies, helped Adames analyze broader issues at play. And the College connected him with Teach For America, where he launched his career. After Adames hired on at his old school, he taught and worked on a master’s degree from the Relay Graduate School of Education.
Now an eighth-grade teacher, he’s doing his daily best to give his students opportunities he didn’t have. He loves the work, especially being a position to accelerate strong eighth-grade math students into a 10th-grade course. As a former neighborhood kid, Adames is a dead-on role model for his students.
“That’s interesting, too, because I feel like I could joke with them outside of the classroom, and we have a really good relationship outside of the classroom, but when it gets to inside of the classroom, they know that I know all of their little tricks, their slang, because those were my tricks, and it is my slang,” Adames says. His students recognize that he understands them and knows how to address them. “They see I’m doing it with care and respect,” he says.
This spring Adames returned to College Hill to receive an award from the College Opportunity Programs in recognition of his commitment to give back to the community. He was an Opportunity Programs student in his Hamilton days.