The end of each school year always brings a range of emotions—fond memories of cherished classroom experiences, friendships established, relationships built, the exhilaration of achievement and the pure exhaustion that comes from having given everything you’ve got to kids. And, of course, the anticipation of some much needed renewal and rest that June, July and August provides!
Several months ago, while attending a district athletic event, a man approached me and asked if I recognized him. Of course I did! I had taught him more than 25 years ago. While I hadn’t seen him since he left Wahlquist Junior High School, I easily recognized his smile, personality and sense of humor. Matt shared some extremely kind and appreciative words about his experience in our junior high English class. His comments touched me deeply. Once again, I realized the power that a teacher, or significant adult, can have in the life of a young person. If we’re not careful, that reality can lose its focus through the day to day rigors of a school year.
As an "old" English teacher, I love literature. One of the poems that has always resonated deeply with me is "O Me! O Life!" by Walt Whitman. It’s a short poem, so those who don’t yet love poetry can still read and enjoy it. In the poem, Whitman seems to lament that things don’t always turn out the way he wants and that life can sometimes feel as though we are merely "plodding" through. Bottom line—Whitman questions if his life has purpose and whether he’s made a difference.
Then come these powerful lines, or in Whitman’s words, the "Answer."
"That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse."
"That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." I love that! What will our verse be? To me, our "verse" represents the tremendous impact we can have on the lives of countless students. That we can shape their lives for good. That we can help them develop their unique gifts and singular talents. And, we can prepare young people to make a meaningful contribution to the world. On behalf of the Weber Board of Education, I thank each of you for the "verse" you contribute, not only to our district but to the many thousands of children who attend our schools.