Saturday, June 10, 2006

ON TEACHING: "Candlelight and Poetry"

At school, we had the annual "Poetry Night" celebration last night, and it was an elegant and emotional affair. The parents had transformed the gym into a quaint and colorful café, perhaps somewhere on Paris's Left Bank. We sat together -- the graduates and their parents and teachers -- at round tables amid flowers, street lamps, and glittery lights, enjoying fine food and wonderful memories. I felt like I was at one of the most sophisticated social gatherings I'd ever attended. The first part of the evening consisted of teachers imparting their memories of the graduates. There were oohs, ahs, and many laughs as we listened to tales of these kids from as far back as their kindergarten days. Whether in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the school vans, in the mountains, or at the shore -- it was obvious, as we listened, that these students had captured the hearts of their teachers over the years. The evening concluded with the annual poetry reading by the students. This is a remarkably talented group of writers, so the poems we heard last night were especially stylish, touching, and, in some cases, heart-rending. The poems, like all good poems, were natural uprisings from the heart. Even the straightforward and less-inspired poems had the true beauty of simplicity and honesty. As the candlelight flickered across the students' teary faces and their words floated out to us, I said a silent prayer of thanks that I had been privileged to teach these kids not just for one, but for two heaven-sent years.

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