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NYC Debate Coach Becomes White House Teacher Ambassador

Education Week

Jonathan McIntosh
Classroom Fellow
New York, NY

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Bio/Overview:  Jonathan McIntosh spent his formative years in Southeast Asia. This experience profoundly shaped his desire to enter the education field and work to create spaces for agency and democratic deliberation for all. Prior to working in education in New York, he worked in both rural and urban Missouri, primarily focused on increasing opportunities and access for students in middle and high school through theatre, speech communication, and debate. He currently serves as the School Director of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School, a STEAM school emphasizing personalized learning in downtown Brooklyn, New York.

Educational Values/Philosophy: His pedagogy is based on developing academic and social competencies around political engagement, and finding voice through both the curriculum and co-curricular activities for all students. He believes our current climate is ripe for the perspectives of an engaged youth citizenry with the ability to shape the course of policy and our democracy for the future, and that special education provides a unique lens to fostering educational agency, voice and equity.

Achievements: Jonathan has individually won, coached, and led middle, high school, and collegiate programs to city, state, and national championships in multiple formats of competitive debate. His leadership experiences have involved serving as a Director of Debate, previously serving as the President of the New York City Urban Debate League coaches association, working as the instructional director at a KIPP NYC middle school, and now as the School Director of BLCS. He is a firm believer in research and has authored numerous studies on civic engagement and debate in public schools.

Affiliations: Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School. KIPP, Teach for America, National Forensics League (NFL), Phi Kappa Delta (PKD), National Forensics Association, New York City Urban Debate League, New York State Debate Coaches Association.

Education: Jonathan received a B.A. from Drury University in Missouri with a triple major in speech communication, theatre, and public relations. He went on to complete a MA in Integrated Strategic Communication also at Drury. After moving to New York City, he earned an MS in Special Education at Bank Street College of Education, and his Ed.M. at Columbia University’s Teacher College in Organizational Leadership. Currently, he is a doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, studying Urban Education Policy and Leadership.

Areas of Interest: In terms of policy work, he is specifically interested in charter school law and innovations, the impact on providing academic diversity, and the intersection with special education. Further, he is specifically interested in how to best foster academic spaces where both educators and students can understand larger mechanisms for policy implementation and how to bridge the discursive and practical discussions to shape future design of sound policy.


About The New York City Urban Debate League

Our mission is that every school should have a debate team and every student should have the opportunity to the best debate education opportunities. One of the most critical problems in education today is the academic and civic achievement gaps. Our solution is to provide the best college, career, civic, communication and community opportunities through year round academic debate. Each month we work with thousands of students and hundreds of schools. We support debate practices every day, debate centers every week, tournaments every weekend, workshops every month, debate camps all summer, and year round support for any student and teacher. We are one of the the city’s most award winning curricular and extracurricular programs. We have received awards from the White House, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Presidential Commission on the Arts and Humanities, National Institute for Museum and Library Services, The Social Index of Top 100 Nonprofits, BoardSource, Points of Light’s Civic Accelerator, Teach for America, and by the First Lady as “one of the top arts and humanities based programs in the country.” Why Debate? Debate teaches every academic skill and every academic subject. A Great Debater means a person who has the skills and confidence to lead, to speak up, to argue, to question, to read and write to right the wrongs, to know about the world around you, and to change the world around you.

The New York City Urban Debate League
25 Broadway, 12th Floor