To Our Teachers Passed (Past) by Josh Parker

To Our Teachers Passed (Past) by Josh Parker

Maryland STOY 2012

Maryland STOY 2012


To Our Teachers Passed (Past),

Death is something people don’t think about enough. Retirement is probably something teachers think about too much. Both are in some ways the same. While teachers never stop teaching; there will come a time when our classroom careers close. This is probably more like death than many of us would admit. I think about it often; wondering what my legacy will be. What lasting fingerprint will I leave on a profession that has touched me in such deep and abiding ways? I think about what the state of poor and minority kids in public schools will be, long after I’m gone. Will it be permanently better? Will all the professional development sessions, speeches and articles have been enough to make a marked change?  Or will they be like so many comets – shooting through the sky, then blanketed by the dark expanse of space. These thoughts, people the silence of my random reflections. Yet, there are others who inspire this letter today; namely each one of you.

To our teachers passed (past), who once spoke in spaces we now speak, do I pen this message. My colleagues and I are ever mindful that we are not starting the quest to create public schools that braid equity with excellence, but rather completing a race - a marathon, even. So many of you have worked, labored and died with hope unseen in our systems’ response(s) to this crisis; your endless hours were unspooled over yards of wiped-away tears, (re)purposed lesson-plans and closed-door sermons. The resulting tapestry remains a picture of blessing and burden. Your strained backs, tired feet and poured-out hearts bless our world; the distance we have yet to cover burdens our hearts. You could call it the burden of the baton. Your desire to shape students’ life trajectories extends like a hand toward us today, carrying with it that baton – which is the substance of things hoped for.

Today we acknowledge that through you the wisdom of tenacity is diffused, like fragrance, upon those of us inspired by your works, words and ways. Thank you. The picture pressed firmly in our minds will always be of your smiles. Those worn yet soft smiles daily remind us that student achievement rarely, if ever, outpaces school morale. Thank you. In memory of the millions of hours sacrificed from your families in the service of our most potential-rich children, we take the baton. We will finish what you ran so hard, so long and so fully to complete but never could. Powered by our informed collaboration and stubborn intention, we will cross that finish-line. We will cross that line for you. As a community of colleagues, we are determined, despite our own possible fear and ignorance, to run through the tape with our hands held high and together – the visible expression of our invisible bond with you - our teachers passed. Our lead-off runners. Our cloud of witnesses. Our better angels.


Your Students Present

#thankateacher #ntoy2013

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