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Seven Days Of Possibilities

One Teacher, 24 Kids, and the Music That Changed Their Lives Forever

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Johanna Grussner arrived in New York City starry-eyed. She was a young Finnish jazz singer looking for the big time. But it was hard to find steady gigs. Propelled by pluck, determination, and a smidgen of desperation, she obtained a job teaching music at P.S. 86, a public school in the Bronx. At first, it was just to pay the bills. But over the course of several years, Johanna formed an intense, transformative connection with her students. She helped turn them from tough, angry, street-smart city kids into a disciplined, technically proficient, soaringly beautiful gospel chorus.

Johanna came to identify so strongly with her students that she eventually took them to her hometown in rural Finland, to meet her family and friends, to perform in a gospel concert, and to show them what an alternate childhood—one of tiny schools, quiet classrooms, fresh air, wholesome meals, and endless music—could be like.

Seven Days of Possibilities offers an inside look at the politics, history, and complex personal relationships that govern one typical New York City public school. But more importantly, it is the story of how one person can make a difference against those odds, rising above corruption, indifference and regimentation with hope, music, and love.

From Publishers Weekly

May 03, 2004 – At first glance—and especially because of the book's glib subtitle—it might seem Hartocollis is mining familiar territory. But this vividly detailed story from the New York Times education reporter isn't just another Hollywood-ready story of a teacher who brings music to inner-city kids. Hartocollis recounts the childhood and education of Johanna Grussner, a Finnish jazz singer who muscles her way through the bureaucracy of New York City's public school system to form a gospel choir at an underprivileged Bronx school. As a result, the heroes of this book—including a custodian who livens up the school grounds with tiger lilies from his own backyard—aren't just admirable, but real. And unlike most teacher-as-motivator success stories, this tale doesn't end with an inspiring concert uniting the community. This performance is just the beginning, the springboard for Grussner's dream of shepherding the eager students to her idyllic hometown in rural Finland. Even the somewhat reluctant and aloof school principal comes around in the end. His toast to the formerly unruly pupils during their Finnish adventure sums up the book's mood: "We all had the trip of a lifetime. This trip, although it's to her home, was never about Johanna. It was about her choir." What unfolds next is truly the stuff of Disney movies, but in Hartocollis's capable and careful hands it becomes a parable for social change. The author writes objectively and doesn't sentimentalize her account, resulting in a credible and challenging work. B&w photo insert not seen by PW.
Seven Days Of Possibilities
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  • $16.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Education
  • Published: Jun 01, 2004
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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