Friday, July 1, 2011

To be of use

"The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls."
-Marge Piercy

On April 15, 2011, I was sent into dallying shallows. 

Almost out of sight.

The official letter, handed over to me in circumstances that I have chosen to get beyond said, simply: "Your services are no longer needed.  You are being dismissed without cause."

The first days weeks of this news were beyond understanding.  A career ended, it seemed.  Decades of dedication to public education erased like blackboards I had washed clean in late afternoons as a young teacher in my very first classroom.  Wanting everything to be fresh for the next day. But now: No dust of chalk. No blackboards. Things, it seemed, had changed. My services were no longer needed.

So. Be. It. 

A few weeks ago, I was contacted out of the blue by an innovative educator.  His vision is to provide direct one-on-one support to principals, teacher leaders, and superintendents in the most struggling schools in our state.  He heard that I was "available" and said to me, "I don't know what happened up there, but you know more about curriculum and teaching than anyone I know.  Folks in eastern Kentucky respect you. They know you are one of them. Would you be interested in working for us?  It would mean a lot to the kids in the region where you grew up. We need you to help make a diffierence." 

I said, "Yes."

And so, this coming school year, I'm going home.  To give what I can to the children of my homeland.

To say I am not terrified by this chance would be profoundly untrue.  Between now and then, I shall swim, read, re-create, and prepare for my recovery from the dallying shallows.

"We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the ones who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear."
-Adrienne Rich

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