Blame my impending old age-- or just my affinity for nostalgia. Special thanks to Mimi McMann, our trusty communications specialist, for asking the faculty to think about our vocation/profession. Since I am a part of the school’s history, I decided to post what I wrote for Mimi-- not trying to be narcissistic, for WE are part of the school’s history.
At the dedication of the Corkins Center today, that feeling permeated every thought as I listened to the speeches in the gymnasium and watched Rex and Garlotte Corkins cut the ribbon, Of course, I, the hapless worrywart, wondered whether the scissors were too sharp. Forgive my meandering in print, but the day was a special one, a time to think about my years at Graland School and the school’s future.
No more sentimental ramblings-- this is what I wrote:
“A quote attributed to William Butler Yeats has always guided, if not haunted, me in my forty-seven years as a teacher: ‘Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ My teaching -- at least, I believe so -- has been one man's quest to follow Yeats's phrase, the lighting of a fire, as well as filling of the pail. Yes, Yeats might cast an unkind epithet if he viewed my English and Latin classrooms during my tenure at Graland School, but my obsession for this honorable profession has been a desire, almost uncontrollable, to instill a heck of ‘lot of’ knowledge into the craniums, willing or not, of my students while holding fast to my idealistic bent that such knowledge would give rise to that fire Yeats supported/demanded from educators.
When I came to Graland, the late Russ Bissell, a former Middle School division head, counseled me that Graland's philosophy could be summed up in two words: enlightened conservatism. These words have guided my life at this school. That may sound simplistic to some -- even old fashioned -- but I shall never forget the power of these two words as I struggled to find a place at this school during my stormy first two years here.
“This is my fortieth year at Graland -- I have lived my dream, thanks to the students, parents, colleagues, and administration. There were days I felt like Sisyphus, yet I did not relent. Thank you, Mike Teitelman, for your faith in me. I walk in the shadows each day of some fine souls, some of whom grace the Master Teachers' wall. These icons I shall never forget.”