Speaking

“What’s a fear you’ve overcome?” my student asks me from across the desk. “Public speaking,” I say without thinking, and she raises her eyebrows. Though we’re in English class, spending the day filling out interest surveys by engaging in an enthusiastic round of “speed dating,” this particular student is also in my Public Speaking class…

Commencement {Of Dreams, Failure, and Asking For Help}

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:12 A ninth-grader stoops down to zip up the long robe, struggling with the zipper until a classmate helps him. “Do I have to wear the hat?” he asks…

The Canyon of Enough

Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30: 8b-9 Thursday morning, the English teachers assemble in…

Hearing The Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play,      And wild and sweet      The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!  And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom      Had rolled along      The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!  Till, ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day,      A voice, a chime,      A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men!  “Hey, this is a song!” I hear it half a dozen times as the eleventh-graders walk into class and pick up today’s reading, Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells.” “‘I heard the bells on Christmas Day,’” the first student reads aloud, then exclaims…

Weary

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough. Ralph Waldo Emerson Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galations 6:9 My students silently and gingerly tiptoe across…

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,…

Teaching & Remembering

Friday, September 9. I scrolled through my cache of YouTube speeches, looking for one to share with my students. Each Friday in Public Speaking class, we watch a speech together, then spend time afterwards critiquing and learning from the style and–to some extent–discussing the message. This was only the second Friday, though, so I had little…

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…

My Doorways

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald This quote, snatched far out of context from a tense scene of The Great Gatsby, makes its rounds every September. And while I agree, as much a lover of fall as any girl who likes sweaters, hot drinks and orange leaves, for…