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 Teacher In Covid

Already the interactions are painful,

the loss of touching hearts,

a lacking support

we each carry our own  grief

this virtual life apart.

 

Masks, cleansers, plexi-glass

we are talking teenagers

with opposing views,

a society brought in from home,

cannot imagine compliance,

if you believe that well you’re an as …

well, rather crass.

 

Different our lives,

having to rethink

that which will keep us wise,

only temporary

though lives are changed,

there is a certain grief

with losing that which we love.

 

Music, gatherings, a sport, the stage

All of these adjustments at this our age.


© Thom Amundsen 7/2020

If Not For That

We wake to the morning

asking for our soul,

at least for a few hours,

protect the innocent,

that sort of thing that eats away,

asks you with a constant

urgency.

Do you have to be that way,

could you maybe perhaps

try it another way.

Does it always have to be,

the way you want it to be.

I feel a constant pressure,

at my back, in my face,

crawling along my skin,

each glance, each breath,

my takeaway is nothing short of,

really dissatisfying.

Yet, when I stop to breathe

(a rare reality)

I sometimes come to terms

with how base my society is,

how simple an analogy I could toss around,

and satisfy so many onlookers.

I have to consciously allow my life to unfold,

and when I do,

when that really does happen,

when I might feel the beauty of life around me,

rather than the angst of not having any energy,

when that occurs,

well, that’s really the best time to

teach.

Wish You Were Here

I wish now, I knew then, the importance of walks.

The steps always seemed so burdensome,

oh to just use automation instead of tireless journeys.

I would walk with you, knowing I would follow you anywhere,

just the two of us, together,

yet I’ve never really understood,

until just today,

when the smells of fall weather

remind me of every year,

you would speak to me alone,

just the two of us,

together strolling to school.

you’d say,

‘oh can you smell the air, thommy’

I could, the soil, the rotting leaves, the signs of summer

over,

yet you would have a smile,

I would always see it there,

as then you would again,

explain,

how you loved this time of year,

the onset of the autumn winds,

the cool temperatures,

the luxurious warmth of a well worn sweater,

the sexy nature of life in the seasons.

‘I can almost smell the cafeteria food’

My favorite time of year,

to be,

a teacher …

We Cannot Choose

Search the horizon,

acknowledge the occasional bump,

maybe a blemish,

a stained reality screaming aloud.

Pause to breathe,

yet don’t step away,

keep your eye on obligation,

imagine the pearl in the rough awakening,

striving and helpless,

until time graced innocence

accentuates grief’s consequence.

Well ahead there exists a euphoric sunrise,

perhaps grayed with callous indecision

today, tomorrow, throughout,

a very near future –

yet know you’re holding a key,

you might respond accordingly,

to a beautiful opportunity.

Be the teacher,

please.

Our Charges Return

Streaming in waves, in smiles and raves,

the children are arriving this morning,

we will welcome all of you with open arms,

readied our rooms, and ironed our ties,

the days ahead are only meant for you.

innocent eyes, and worrisome nights,

children of our halls, determined and right.

~

I stepped into the constant motion

noticed them all with emotion,

I realized how much I’d missed every face,

how excited I was by the new,

I understood that this special place,

held a bargain for me to offer solace,

to those that came through the halls today.

~

We begin the task, forever in progress,

the idea of moving our pages along,

the free-spirit nature of every child,

is our responsibility to maintain, to ideal.

Walk inside the classroom, tap a pencil

look around the space to see a set of eyes,

then know that each set is willing the same.

~

To a teacher on the first day of school, hello,

to a student in return, welcome to your life.

What We Do

On a near morning,

duty will call,

the rise of another nation

of children, all eager minds

willing to listen

only if provided

our correct animation.

Methodical minds

will test the limits

while the year winds

with levels of commotion.

We need to return

our lives are their mortar

feel the grains, the seed

when melted in knowledge

castle walls may appear

with inviting hallows.

I would if I might

venture to suggest

my world is less important

than the guest rooms,

backseats, extended stays,

low-income, palatial platforms

single-family fortress our

charges will depart

to grace the hallways

wandering, wondering, whether

this classroom is worth

their precious time.

When next the hour

suggests we smile,

we will include passion

to advocate the beauty

of their timeless soul.

Standards and Values

oh to delineate the mix of passions,

when all the heads converge in mourning,

the start of their own quiet circus,

to be revealed upon the main stage.

~

Theirs is a craft unlike any other,

a territorial nirvana perhaps in eyes

solo to the universe. Nearby, questions

always remain, tamed in discretion.

~

What heaven-sent ideals do bring

out the comfort of each participant,

in a common measure of sanity

in the beholder’s eyes we worry.

~

Often so easily forgotten in the flurry

of the day’s planning, the memory

that divines a lesson plan, suddenly

shattered in the throes of our humanity.

~

We are really simple folk with a passion

toward reaching the mecca, the pinnacle,

the over-arching, pendulum swaying

essence of a child’s swift education.

~

Numbers and charts, workable Venn

diagrams litter the monitors today.

Each professed design uniquely stable

in the eyes of the frightened minion.

~

Today begins again a journey everyone

familiar can appreciate, the anxiety,

the euphoric nature of creating a glint

in the eye of our student awaits.

~

This year, “I will reach more of them”

is the common phrase said quietly

while watching, looking, stealing

the ideas of our neighbor the teacher.

~

In a moment of purposeful disdain,

we accept the standards, the bubbles

remain in the minds of our surrogate

‘elder’ whose design we must enrich.

~

Remember, my elbow partner, to breathe

while we again beckon a desire to teethe.

The Door is Open

How remarkable to imagine

another period of our lives

measured in time, in knowledge,

in hopes, in tribulations, in grief,

in discovery, in coming of age,

the doors are opening

all across the horizon,

in each avenue of growth,

in every challenge to our passion.

the doors are opening

to allow minds to become alert

to a world that begins with their eyes,

while guided by principles we offer

in humble contrast to our own

quiet ignorance with allowance.

the doors are opening,

and in walk our lives

as a young child or old messenger,

we each might enjoy the bounty

we offer one another in peace.

the doors are opening,

let’s welcome the stroll.

3rd Desk From The Wall

desk

I sit down alone here,

my desk,

my refuge for the hour,

no one can touch me here

oh there might be eyes,

occasional grunts,

perhaps even a wad of paper,

beyond that I have a teacher

knows I sit here

I sit in the 3rd desk from the wall

every day until yesterday.

~

I stopped going to that class,

the desk spoke to me,

the wood burned with spite

a ruthless act of cowardice

I wasn’t able to go near the

3rd desk from the wall,

my name, it is my name embedded in the wood,

the teacher who doesn’t know who I am

except my name

with the words underneath.

~

I sit in the 3rd desk from the wall,

forever burned into my memory

are the lies and deceit

of my peers.

~

Picture found on Tumblr