This week’s #YourEdustory prompt asks what I’m proud of in education, and as I sit down at my desk at the end of a bustling morning of welcoming students back on campus for “Taking Care of Business Days” the answer for me is simple and true: I’m proud of the students.
A campus without kids feels incomplete, and welcoming students back to school today -having a chance to see the excitement and expectation they bring with them- made the year feel like it had begun.
As a principal, I’m proud to be a small part of a great enterprise that supports students. I felt this way when I was an English teacher as well. I’m part of a generation of teachers who came of (teaching) age around the time of the movie Dead Poet’s Society, and I’d be fibbing if I suggested that I didn’t have the model of Robin Williams’ character in the back of my mind as I worked with kids.
Particularly impactful for me, as for so many English teachers about my age, was his quotation of Walt Whitman’s poem “O Me! O Life!” The point made to the students in the movie was that they each had something to add to this world around them. In Whitman’s answer to why life: “That you are here -that life exists and identity/ That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
Talking with the students today reminded me of the amazing possibilities ahead of our students. When I asked students what they were most looking forward to in the upcoming year I heard answers as varied as music and drama, cross country, robotics, and AP art. The passion and purpose our students bring to these pursuits is astounding. The planning and support our teachers bring to their work with these young artists, scientists, and scholars is amazing too.
What am I proud of in education? That I get an opportunity to help foster an environment where students can find their place in this “powerful play” and that I can join a group of professionals (teachers as inspiring as Williams’ Mr. Keating) in helping students decide what verse they will contribute.