I’m down to the plants, a coffee maker, and two boxes of books. The office feels empty and, in the quiet of July, a little surreal. I’ve taken the pictures off the walls and with a pocketful of nails I’m getting ready to take the last odds and ends out to the car and drive across town where I’ll unpack in the principal’s office at San Dieguito High School Academy. It’s a big leap, and as I jot these lines I feel like I’m still in midair.
One of the books in the boxes is a scuffed copy of The Collected Poetry of WH Auden. I get kidded a bit about keeping poetry in my office alongside the more professional volumes that fill my shelves, and that’s okay. I find that I open the books on education most in the Julys and Decembers when I have a few days off in a row. For more instant inspiration, I turn to verse.
On the day the possibility of coming to SDHSA peeked into my comfortable office, I leaned on Auden. In a few lines he provided the challenging reassurance that this was my path. He wrote:
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.”
Learning, growing, and trying new things aren’t traits exclusively beneficial for students. To be the educator I strive to become, I knew I needed to embrace Auden’s challenge.
So I’m leaping.
With eyes open and mouth bent in a smile of anticipation, I’m lifting off from the safety of the known and rushing up to the dynamic world of the unexpected. That I’m waking up on these summer mornings looking forward to the end of August reassures me that it’s the right thing to do. It’s the feeling I had when I chose my college and when my family and I moved to California.
The SDHSA I know already is a free spirited and socially conscious place where teachers and students know the value of caring and community. It’s a place with proud traditions and new ideas, a place that embraces the offbeat and honors individuals’ differences. It’s a school that might just indulge a principal keeping Auden on the bookshelf in his office, might even embrace it.
For a former philosophy major who routinely dressed like a pirate (beard and hoop earring included) when teaching, I feel like my professional path, winding as life does, has led me here. Poet, pirate, principal, I’m home.