“Get your mouth off that balloon, you might get AIDS,” my grandmother warned as I tried to resuscitate a deflating balloon I found at Chuck E. Cheese.

I’m not sure why I remember this randomly specific exchange I had with my grandmother as a child, but I have no doubt…


Just over seven weeks ago I was feeling the full weight of test-prep season as a 4th grade literacy and math teacher in the NYC public school system. Every Monday, I met with my principal for data check-ins.

He began each of these meetings with a casual yet ominous mention…


Perfectionism Is Slowing Your Reading Rate

I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had read more books than I thought as I reflected on a busy year. It wasn’t because I set a goal to read x number of books per month. Quite the contrary — I had low expectations for how much I might read…


In 1808, black congregants at my church would be ushered to a segregated section of our sanctuary, the “slave loft.” One Sunday, a group of traders from Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) came to worship at The First Baptist Church in the City of New York. …


Why Doing What Doesn’t Matter Matters

Evensong in Westminster Abbey in London
Where “daily prayer has been offered for over a thousand years”
Brings an unwelcome feeling of insignificance

The choir sings: “The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.”

A millennium’s worth of kings, commoners…


Why Guilt is a Terrible Motivator for Social Justice

Imagine a country where abortion is illegal, where the church has a prominent role in shaping the culture’s sexual behavior, and where “government” and “handouts” are two words rarely used together. While that might sound like some future GOP utopia, it’s not.

It’s present day Honduras.

Virtually any type of…


How Embracing the Rationale of an 8 Year Old Frees Us to Enjoy Our Talents, Career, & Calling

Eight years have passed and I still sometimes wake up in a cold sweat. Another dream.

It’s always the same nightmare. Someone mentions to me that they’re planning to attend my college piano recital that night, and terror strikes. Somehow I’ve completely forgotten to prepare. I hadn’t practiced a single…


Poets, artists, and philosophers have been trying to capture the essence of love for centuries, so it’s up to Millennials to finally figure it out. These handcrafted valentines will help you give that special someone, or someone other than yourself, a fuller understanding of love in a way that no previous generation has ever been able to grasp.


And other realizations upon turning 30.

“We’re trying to downsize, what do you want to do with all your trophies?” my mom asked.

The trophies she spoke of spanned my entire high school career of fine arts competitions. Years ago they were proudly displayed by the piano where I spent hours honing my skill. …

Steven Michael Mann

4th Grade Math & Literacy Teacher: NYC Public Schools | Curious about how faith, social justice, education, and the arts all combine.

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