Faculty Spotlight - Brooklyn Prospect Charter School

Faculty Spotlight

Martial Toussaint
Youth Development & School Culture Head, Clinton Hill Middle School

Alma mater: Brown University

Hometown: I was born in Queens, NY. My family moved out to Long Island when I was 2 years old, to a town called Coram. We moved further east on Long Island to East Hampton when I was a teenager, and my family still lives there.

What drew you to Brooklyn Prospect?
I think it’s important for an educational environment to provide information and skills that can easily translate to the real world.

In my eyes, that means teaching kids how to socialize in a diverse environment that gives them the opportunity to encounter and understand ways of living and thinking outside of their own. It also means shifting away from the mindset of controlling kids and, instead, thinking about creating supports, systems and policies that teach independence and self-control.

Quality of education has as much to do with meeting the needs of students on a personal and social level as it does on an academic level. Brooklyn Prospect felt like a good fit for me philosophically as a place to develop children using a balanced and holistic approach.

What does an average day look like for you?
I usually start the day by doing a temperature check – I like to get a sense of where every child is, emotionally, by observing facial expressions and body language. This usually gives me an opportunity to check in before something small becomes a bigger problem and allows me to help specific students have a strong start to their day and build positive momentum.

Once I establish things are settled, I usually check in with my team to make sure any questions/concerns are addressed, and that they have whatever they need to complete their objectives for the day.

Lunch/Recess is typically the busiest time of my day – I’m either doing academic/behavioral intervention, supporting with supervision, or I’m leading some small group enrichment activity such as Martial Arts/Gymnastics, games, or sports.

My afternoons are far less conventional: no two afternoons are the same. For this reason, I try to keep my afternoons free so I am available to teachers, students, or parents who need me in the moment to troubleshoot. My afternoons can consist of everything from observing classes and meeting with teachers, to mediations with groups of students and developing plans to improve grades.

The unpredictable nature of my work keeps it interesting for me, and I genuinely like the process of problem-solving on a daily basis – but I’m still working on finding time to eat every day!

What’s the thing you like most about your job?

Building relationships with kids and helping them navigate situations is the best part of my job. I just find kids to be incredibly interesting! I learn more about them every day, which helps me get better at supporting them. I also tell them that they’re helping me to become a better dad one day!

Would you give any advice to your middle school-age self? If so, what?

I would probably tell my middle school self the same things I tell myself today:
1. “Don’t take yourself too seriously”
2. “Take care of your mind & body”
3.  “Being happy is a choice”

Fun fact about yourself
I never planned on working in education – I went to law school and became interested in education after a mentor invited me to a dinner with President Obama.