Grad Party Moments

After a year of Covid the grad parties have returned. There have been years past where I haven’t attended any of the celebrations of our senior graduates. Last year I made no excuses, we all stayed home. But there have been occasion where I took an all or nothing approach. This year has been different. Perhaps having retired from my school holds precedent. Today I felt tears at a party for the first time in nearly a decade.

For every teacher there is always that student and this afternoon I said a farewell to one of mine. She holds that special place in my heart. One particular display taunted everyone’s heartstrings. She had created, or perhaps mom or dad, a display of her class picture from 1st grade to graduation. My eyes well as I write these words. I think knowing she would be the last person I work with directly on this stage had a tremendous emotional impact on me today.

I looked at all the students and families that I was given the opportunity to spend my life with over the last two decades and I am only grateful. The celebration of a graduate is real and profound. In my own life I didn’t have that luxury when I left high school, so now as a teacher for most of my life I have discovered a certain respect for the life of the students that when I was a teenager I took for granted. To be the adult teacher that comes to celebrate their successes is rather humbling for me.

For all the teachers out there that this summer question whether or not it makes any difference for them to say goodbye to their students one last time as they leave the high school hallways, take a moment to give yourself a break. Though there were many times when you felt like you had no impact on their lives, it is clear they wouldn’t be where they are this summer without your love, compassion and guidance. But we didn’t do it alone we all did it together hand-in-hand because that’s what we cared about more than anything else – the success of our children, our students, our families, our community.

To be a teacher has been probably one of the rewarding gifts of my life and I am forever thankful for the opportunity. Seeing the smiles and celebration of my students this summer has been a highlight and offers assurance as I choose another chapter in my life. I only hope I can have as receptive an audience as I did the kids I worked with on stage throughout my career.

Graduates I wish you only the greatest success in all of your future endeavors and I will be right there to watch you achieve so much in your profound lives.

Thanks for letting me know you – celebrate!


©️ Thom Amundsen 6/2021

A Certainty is Rage

When at wit’s end this identity does unravel,

the spirit, the mind, that epicenter of our brain

begins to take its own journey

while the body will always forever remain.

Hard to know where the mind goes

when stuck in idle unable to let go.

~

There is a response to fear and anxiety

a shutting down of the factory,

all working parts forcibly placed on leave

in order to comprehend the nature of this pain.

Watching the year end,

yet knowing our lives are not over,

we are meant to go forward

an unprecedented commitment lay ahead.

~

I once told a kid, a student, a young man,

while crying in my classroom,

‘this is a brief moment in your life’

when he wailed about losing

a privilege to walk with his peers

with their heads held up high

and a diploma in hand.

~

I looked him in the eye

and said those dark moments will not

ever defeat him, he will move forward,

and make a life of his own.

~

I told him with a passion, a compassionate plea,

do not give up, you must please set yourself free.


© Thom Amundsen 12/2020

Don’t Feel Sorry For A Teacher

I run an immediate risk with teaching colleagues with such a title caught in the eye of the storm that is COVID-19. Our lives and the students we teach are forever changed, anyone, anywhere in the world will be impacted more directly than indirectly by this virus. We will all have to adjust to the new normal until a medically healing vaccine will be discovered. I speak of teachers because in my world most of us still have our jobs, and before this pandemic, there have been history books written on the scrutiny of teachers and the lack of respect for all of their work in the classroom with ‘your’ children.

I would be remiss if I didn’t first speak of all of our civil servants, our police, our fire workers, our EMTs, our service workers, our medical teams who put themselves directly in line with the contagion. In addition many people have the opportunity to still work from their homes. We have become a necessarily adaptive society using our online social network at an alarming rate. So let’s get back to teachers shall we? Without discounting the incredible numbers of unemployed I want to speak of our opportunity as educators in this unique time.

A couple of years ago, in the district I teach we went one to one with technology. No one in their right mind imagined our current peril to be the reason. The planning committees across the world with research to back up their findings would suggest that students can go further with their learning using online resources. Our school district created a system of keeping academics in focus on what was once known as a snow day. The idea didn’t take the entire day of freedom from students at home, but it did offer a limited array of academic tools to keep students on track. This system was imagined to compensate four or five days of lost education in a winter bound region of the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the rules. Students need their education, they need to move to the next level. Students across the world need to be able to achieve a current level of education in order to hone theirs skills to live formative futures that lay ahead. Students in post-secondary also face the same challenge. For the sake of this writing, the focus in on elementary through high school, and primarily on senior classes whose graduation walk are now hanging by a thread. This does not even speak to the extracurriculars – athletics, fine arts, business, etc.

When this virus first began to impact education, we were told we would have a week and a half before our spring break to begin implementing tools to provide students distance-learning for the rest of the school year. It would appear we may not enter the classroom through graduation. I remember hearing a colleague one day suggest that maybe teachers will gain more respect now that parents are forced to stay home from their jobs in order to care for their children. I cannot imagine what parents who need to work and cannot are going through in respect to their children who are dependent upon their love, compassion and care in home. During our ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ mandate in nearly every state in the country, every country in the world, our children are left living uncertain and vulnerable times.

I personally don’t believe this gives teachers a better opportunity to gain respect. In fact, it increases our responsibility to move students forward. It demands that as a teacher we find a way to inspire and support students to continue moving to the next level of their education. The COVID-19 virus is a mandate on education, and we as teachers need to embrace this opportunity in the midst of crisis.

Now more than ever teachers cannot manifest the identity that allows the general public to believe we may take ownership in lesser stressed occupations than workers in many capacities across the country. Teachers need to step up and create online classrooms that will capture the imagination of students across the world. In the classroom, we as teachers are asked to provide students with a safe environment for learning and coping in a dynamic and fluid world. More than ever, as we reach into student homes we need the parents to feel confident their children are not being ignored and not being forced to move in rampant fashion into negative aspects of such remarkable free time in their lives.

As a teacher, we need to reach our students and not let them believe at an ever increasing and alarming level that we do not take stake in moving them forward and giving them the tools to continue to hone their academic skill set. As a teacher, we need to continue to be a student mentor. That is what we signed up for. That cannot change.

Be safe everyone – keep your distance – wear your masks – love each other.


© Thom Amundsen 4/2020

In A Short Minute*

IMG_3639

Life ends

simple bitter finale

minutes before our ideas

thrive in the mind

of the present

For the nether

a mystique in soul,

deep resonate despair.

We want control of that

scope beyond, infinite magic.

Sweet mystery is love,

realistic to the wakeful eye,

more impactful in fear,

when our lives become

measured.

A life spent

entertaining the seats,

mentoring the masses,

forgiving the ill,

now manifests a timely

farewell,

one sure to confuse

a following,

heart-wrenching pain.

 will us all say good-bye

now.

~

*we lost a master of the stage to tragedy today.

Knocking On Doors

I choose to navigate the open walkways,

a common thread

similarities in typical days

places I dread.

I wonder sometimes about certain choice

if we might know

just why it is we find the time to rejoice,

however swift hearts grow.

When a decision in retrospect is made

we sometime slow realize

that memory that conscience forbade,

will leave our wonder wise.

When a lift in melody caught sweet attention

the very source of gallantry

spoke aloud with strong desire to love, mention

in all its chivalry.

Welcome the moon in familiar tonight’s pattern

while the sky awaits morning light

a beautiful life we swift acknowledge in turn

when covering shadows in the night.

When only the naked mind is given allowance

In simple virtue our humanity’s bliss is chance.

Giving Back

I stole your time,

trying,

I watched as you heard my whine,

kept your smile,

I walked inside your world,

offered nothing in return,

that was then,

I still remember the anxiety, know the confusion,

appreciate the lost world I began

seeking your guidance.

Simply not fair,

I know this today, as I see me everywhere,

head down on the desk,

simple disregard for anything beyond me,

in my own world,

seek my own dreams.

They don’t include you …

I remember you were my teacher, at the time

arrogance wasn’t able to let me have anything

you so freely offered me,

with your smile,

with your patience,

I remember that time you told me to,

go to …

I’m still standing in your room,

hoping somehow I might give back,

to you.

I Teach While Learning

There is a humbling reality

while we try to understand

how our own brevity

can impact our command

~

Last night I dropped acid

on textbooks in minutia

my anger erupted an acrid

forced freedom in Ischia

~

We can so easily fall away

the choices will fuel martyrdom

I remember that one day,

I felt the earth in my kingdom.

~

but it slipped away as any

ego driven desire will go

I’d forgotten my way many

days before I’d begun to know.

~

Perhaps I’ll settle in the knowledge

We can bring them in off the ledge.

We Were Younger Then

When did we become, our father’s instincts,

when our mother suddenly appeared in our gestures.

How far did we travel before eagarly coming to terms

with reality’s tease …

Remember when ‘just kidding’ offered hope

instead today,

we reason with our legacy,

suddenly twisting in the wind,

feeling the result of a gale force

slap in the face

while Father Time decidedly dance.

~

While society laid down the foundation

how to speak, how to laugh,

what to eat, when to realize

when we have made a gaffe.

When then the world became interlaced

with your way of doing things,

how might we rule the underlings,

why did that gesture seem to create some

noble frenzy of sacred morality.

Who speaks the loudest while determinant

outcomes caress the curious conformity of time.

~

Outcomes are a constant search, a quest, a dream

we all seem to interpret with a difficult strain

asks only we decide – we stop vacillating

around the ‘simple things’ and garner support

toward a challenge, toward the next level,

beyond that scope of who we are tomorrow,

versus how we became today.

While climates shout our name and ask with feverish

pitch the accommodation of new comfort levels,

we wish to still, we want, certainly need to flip a switch.

~

We have a certainty of moral standard we share in words

when suddenly, a hurt, a laughter, a visual reminder

tells us the search remains …

 

Why Love Can Speak

We define ourselves by needs

by the operative term of finding freedom,

we might be the one that bleeds

if while in action we lose our kingdom

to the crusader, the challenger, the chilling

antagonist.

We question the rights and our own

wrongs when trying to combine value

upon a selfish agonizing scream unknown

while the world derides the me in you.

Meanwhile the innocent blood is our bleeding

martyr.

While a man determines their right,

question the many that came so long before

just living this way seems today to be a rite

of passage, a sacrifice long ago thought folklore.

Shatter the window to freedom becomes a shouting

anarchist.

We begin our lives in the comfort of loving arms

unbeknownst to our innocence, the living pain

to be endured in the years ahead in subtle charms

meant only to help create a divide without gain.

Everywhere else evocative notions shriek from willing

candidate.

Life is a circle, a flowing line, an endless surface

In terms of morality we might a peace, promise

My World A Ruthless Shame

I grew up with certain freedoms,

Though I was never really told,

I only understood a world of fiefdoms

From books I read. I wasn’t bold.

~

My dreams were made with managed

Challenge, the bounty being compassion

Beyond a society of greed is the adage

Spoke a loud in a personal fashion.

~

The limits began when in later life

What we discovered together in name

Became the seedling of confusion’s strife

The sort leaves my eyes seeing shame.

~

We are a world driven by our insanity

If we believe this our lovely reality.