Nestled on my desk in bold, wooden block letters rests “The Hippie’s Desk,” a work of art created and given to me by one of my former middle school students. Travis made it with a scroll saw. A few years later, Travis was on the front page of our local newspaper. The headline proclaimed, “Man, I Love Art.” An accompanying picture captured his smiling face with his carefully carved art pieces behind him. The article reported that he was selling his works of art at craft fairs for hundreds of dollars. He found his passion.
A copy of the Epitome of Grace rests on the desk’s bookshelf. This is an ever-present reminder of a literary dance that Kristina and I performed for five years which eventuated in the publication of our book. We forged a friendship that continues to this day.
Students are the biggest treasures to me. Colleagues are too, but students are the reason we show up in the classroom every day.
All the BS occurring in education today is nauseating at best. The corporate privatization Machine keeps rolling along. Its mission is to destroy public education under the appealing guise of choice. Trouble is, “choice” is serving to segregate kids by race and socioeconomic status. It discriminates against those with disabilities. The Machine seeks to dupe the public. It enrages me.
My solace is being surrounded by the tangible gifts students have given me through the years. When I sit in my study and gaze at them, I smile.
These artifacts remind me of all the intangible moments, too. The light in students’ eyes when they “get it,” the brief one on one meeting in the hall to solve a personal problem, the celebration of academic or social success, the sharing of a joke. These memories rejuvenate me; give me comfort.
The satisfaction the act of teaching brings to me and my fellow educators is immeasurable. Teaching is the essence of meaningful work.
Our educational system in this country has been going insane over the last few decades. There is a fine line between insanity and clarity. These treasures clarify why I do what I do.