The Fear Jacket

  I’m troubled from the start, Friday morning. Living nine hours ahead of my friends on the West Coast, the ongoing ugliness of election season in America unfolds mostly in the morning for me. I wake up and see it spattered across social media, the messy barbs of rhetoric flying between two people I don’t…

The Patience of Questions

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet An orange entrepreneur is telling a story to a red-suited politician. “…Somebody would call up Sean Hannity,…

More Than Passports

What is an American? What did you learn about America from the book you read this summer? By your own definition, how American are you? Write for five minutes without stopping. Be prepared to share! Honors American Literature, 5 September 2016 Familiar scratch of pen and paper, familiar slant of morning light through familiar second-floor…

Bigger Places

“There are bigger places out there than Kandern…. And thank the Lord for that.” BFA 2015 Valedictorian The morning of graduation day at Black Forest Academy, I received a message from a  former BFA student. “Did you go to Ballard high?” he had written beneath a picture of my alma mater. After confirming that yes,…

College Essays

Write a college entrance essay. You will design the essay yourself, based loosely around one of these two questions: What has made you who you are? What do you care most deeply about? College Essay assignment 2015 I’m in the library today, getting in the squats demanded by the pregnancy gurus as I bounce up…

Independent

I run to the Independent Living classroom from the Bible class where I’ve spent first period giving a test to sophomores. The room feels full, even though there are only the normal number of students, because everyone is running in frenzied circles trying to get ready for today’s final cooking project, the Tea Party. I am here…

Professionally Curious

I’m walking in circles these days, dizzy spirals around the library under the rounded hangar ceiling of our school. Once in a while I’ll pause by a computer and a student, stopping to give advice or ask a question, but most often its a leisurely drift, digital eavesdropping on the eleventh-graders as they start their research…

Dream Job

Future Math Teacher meets me in my office after school. She and a partner are cooking dinner for Timmy and me tonight, a project for their Independent Living (once called “Home Economics”) class. From here, we’re going to shop for the evening at both of Kandern’s grocery stores, then home so that they can prepare the…

From the Woods of Narnia

5:oo PM on Saturday evening, the sun is down over the leafless Black Forest as we scurry between table s and up on the stage, putting the finishing touches on the decorations for this year’s Christmas Banquet. The theme is “Through The Wardrobe,” an homage to C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and…

Rewrites

“So, what’s up with this paper?” my students ask, wafting in from the hall and settling in their desks with a nonchalance only possible after lunch, when a free afternoon beckons and “we can only handle school if it’s relaxed” is the motto of the hour. Don’t ask too much of us; it’s sixth period….