I begin to say goodbye because in this bureaucracy, we all lose

by Mr. Sheehy

The basement is flooding in our new house. Oh well. I suppose we need the rain? This certainly sours my forever positive outlook at the sight of precipitation — something to which I was accustomed until moving to the Great Plains.

It’s sort of a day for soured outlooks, though. One of my most trusted and close colleagues is being forced out of our building as the district cuts the budget. I don’t think she should have to go, and if I were king . . . I’d keep her here. Of course, I’m not king, and the politics of the situation are too thick to cut through, so thick that I can’t utter a true sentence on the subject, but I wonder — why are we all so scared? Not just me, but everyone, in every profession . . . scared to speak, to dig to find the truth and call it what it is. Perhaps we know too well that we’ll end up like Hamlet, a man who is able to expose the truth, but a man who still dies for it. Even then, unlike Hamlet, we have children and spouses at risk, so we never truly consider any option besides, “To be.”

But here’s to Connie, anyway, a woman whose knowledge of her own imperfection drives her so hard to improve her methods that she inevitably ventures into innovation.

She famously finishes each year with contemplative questions for her students (usually beginning with Plato’s advice to Know Thyself), and I have followed her in that vein, because I think it is beneficial to close a year with a thoughtful look back–a ponderance on the ground we have covered. Isn’t that what we naturally do if we have the sense to realize what is happening? When I hike and reach the top of a precipice, I turn and look whence I came, and usually, I feel good for having traveled that stretch. Today, then, I toast Connie because she helped me to construct this element of my teaching more intentionally, and when I do this each year I’ll think of her. Unfortunately, that thought will be a bit more melancholy than it should be, since she won’t be on the other side of that cheap drywall.

Thanks for loving to teach, Connie. Thanks for bringing out the best in your students. And thanks for being my friend.