Today of all days we needed to get out of the classroom and out into the world of art, artifacts, and architecture, if for no other reason than to return the joyous smiles to our lucky busload of students. These kiddos have hung in through the shut-down of COVID, the masked return, the uncertainty of their future, civil liberties, freedoms, and especially their lives. Even with the wind blowing at a mighty clip, or perhaps in awe of it, we stood in front of Nancy Winship Milliken’s moving sculptures and allowed the conversation to soar. Nothing like a road-trip field-trip to generate well-needed good vibes to keep spirits moving to the positive.
How can I still be in a classroom, and still love teaching, even this year, you might ask? Well it isn’t necessarily due to anything particularly done by the greater public or certainly not all the ups and down of working around COVID protocols. There is just something that happens when, text in hand, I sit among readers and writers, and we talk complex characters or plot twists or even a last word, that just fuels me. We are in need of some hope, and whether plodding though Shakespeare’s Hamlet or being somewhat horrified by Shelley’s Frankenstein, or discovering the images and poetry generated during the short life of Basquiat, my student’s visions and imagery and words grant a faith in mankind I might not have found without them.
In the early light, is there anything that holds more promise than a school building? Students arrive via bus or car or bike or foot, teachers too, all bringing a tangible energy, filled with all the opportunity in this day. I always smile driving up the hill to this grand building, the original section completed in 1928. I have spent nearly 3 decades working here, discussing story and craft and everything in between with students from 9th grade to 12th. This year that hopeful energy is even more palatable, because we are back full-time and in-person doing whatever is needed to keep our community safe, even graciously donning a mask. Heroes if you ask me as sacrifice has become the norm.