Sunday, July 20, 2008


P is for Police Work

When I was a teenager, I often fantasized about growing up and doing police work, and as I look back at age 66, it turns out I’ve actually been doing it for the past 42 years. My beat is my classroom, and the people I protect are my English scholars. I feel as proud as a police officer would if he or she had fairly successfully guarded and cared for a community for four decades. Over the years I’ve tried hard to shield my 600+ young scholars so they could go about the essential enterprise of getting themselves educated. I use the word “protect” and its synonyms because I believe they best describe the duties of both a police officer and a teacher. The universal motto for law enforcement officers is “protect and serve”, and it could well be the motto of a teacher. I believe my responsibility as a teacher is not so much to teach, but to allow my scholars to learn. They all have the inner resources to gradually transform themselves into erudite adults, but in order to do this, they need to be protected, during these shaping years, from the chaos, close–mindedness, and animosity of the “real” world. That’s where Officer Salsich comes in. When they enter my classroom, my scholars know they are crossing the threshold of a restricted and sheltered zone, open only to those who wish to help the learning process, not hinder it. They know my classroom will be utterly free of the petty crimes that obstruct education: jealously, selfishness, apathy, and intolerance. They also know, I hope, that, like any dutiful police officer, I am there to serve them. I’m ready to assist them in any way possible as they journey on toward adulthood. You might say I “wait on” them, hovering here and there around the room to see how best I might be of support. There are thousands of loyal police officers around the world who are faithfully trying to protect and serve -- to help their communities flourish and thrive – and one of those communities is Room 2 at my school.

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