“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats, poet
My love of learning came early, and for this I thank my parents. Not because they are teachers, though they are. And not because they raised me in a home full to the brim with books, though they did. No, my parents sparked a fire of curiosity in me because they never let their own fires die out. Perhaps that’s why they did both study education and stockpile my childhood home with literary treasures. Like them, I come a little more alive when I’m able to make a connection I previously didn’t see. Like them, I am in awe of language: the power of words to create something of beauty or something of filth, to begin and end wars, to heal and to decimate, to capture and to shatter hearts. Like them, I cannot allow my fire to be contained. And so I teach.
I teach my 8th graders with every bit of passion I can muster. And they teach me about learners, about the human experience, and more about myself than I’ve ever wanted to know. My days with them are a gift. But like any good American, I want more.
This school year, I am embarking on the journey towards National Board Certification. I’m leading a cadre of second year teachers in professional growth opportunities. I’m collaborating with a remarkable colleague to put on a Readathon. And I’ll continue the fun stuff like advising the National Junior Honor Society, tutoring after school, collaborating across my district, and on and on. In short, I just may have lost my mind, but allow me to wax eloquently (or at least pretend to) for another moment on my noble cause, on becoming a better teacher and a better person, on providing my students with an example of an adult whose fire continues to spread. I am a life-long learner.
I’m also an English teacher, so it’s time to drop that tired fire metaphor and apologize for my sentence fragments. Well, maybe just one more thing on the fire metaphor, but only because it’s Jim Morrison.