Wilson’s Owen Gabbey; two time baseball player of the year whose family believes in city schools

Wilson’s Owen Gabbey; two time baseball player of the year whose family believes in city schools

City Tournament

June 2, 2013

At Genesee Valley Park

How often have we heard the story? Professional families with school age children lack faith in city schools. They may enroll their kids in city elementary schools, but all too soon they leave for the suburbs or private schools.

One family, the Gabbeys, made a permanent commitment to the RCSD. And look at the result. This week, junior Owen Gabbey of Wilson was named RCAC player of the year for the second straight time. When he won in 2012, he hit .360. This year Owen improved to a .571 average with 46 RBI. As a pitcher, he went 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA. He also led Wilson to the city tournament championship. So, next year Owen will be going for the three-peat. Already some college coaches, including from the University of Rochester, have contacted him.

City Tournament v. East

Fundamentally, Owen’s story is about parents believing in the RCSD. Owen’s father, Paul, who teaches social studies at Penfield High School, says the family made a conscious choice to send Owen and his sister Zoe to city schools. While he loves Penfield, Paul feels that suburban schools are sometimes not a true representation of what America looks like anymore.  Paul sees great programs in the city—Wilson’s International Baccalaureate [Owen is an IB student] being one them—and great teachers. He does say he has to work hard as a parent advocate, but the challenges have been worth it.  Paul believes the diversity in city schools only helps prepare its students for our 21st century multi-cultural world.

Owen concurs:

Playing baseball in the suburbs and knowing a lot of suburban kids, I see often how other people perceive city schools. I hear kids talk about how they think I see fights every day, I’ve had kids ask how many kids bring weapons to school. Theses stereotypes and fallacies are one of the main reasons I like going to a city school. I get a unique educational opportunity with the IB Program to be challenged and be among an elite group of students. But I also like the social aspect of being a city student. I enjoy that a lot of the kids around have changed how I think and have become good friends. These people are the proof that city schools have so much to offer. And this doesn’t just come from the students. The teachers have often been able to teach and inspire and continue the cycle in the city; not of negativity, but of excellence. That’s why we’ve never wavered from the city schools.

Quite an endorsement. (Oh, Owen is in the top ten in his class academically at Wilson.)

Next season catch Owen on the city school diamonds. He knows a three-peat won’t be easy. There is that kid Kenny Cruz from SOTA who has what it takes. I’ll keep you posted.

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About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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