Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Stout-Hearted Cleveland Teacher
Writes Trenchantly From the Inside

'Even for those of us who have lasted long enough in the education trenches to bear the moniker of 'Seasoned Veteran', the first day back to school is still anticipated with a bit of trepidation, along with the excitement of a fresh start. Driving along the Shoreway early Thursday morning I wondered, "Who will I meet this year?" Over the past 28 years of 'first days', I have met thousands of young men and women. As I taught them new concepts, they enriched my life. So many made me laugh, some tested my patience, a few even broke my heart. Most eventually graduated to go on to jobs or college. They became hard workers, good parents, and successful business people. A good number became artists, and an admirable number became teachers. I've sent quite a few of my students off to the armed forces. Some made careers in the military, others have returned from war physically and/or emotionally scarred. I see my former pupils' names in the newspaper, or on the internet, in the business or society pages, occasionally in the obituaries, and more often than I care to admit, in the police blotter. I've seen their faces on the walls of the post office featured on the FBI's most wanted posters, found them listed in the sheriff's sex offenders updates, and on prison web pages. I've taught killers, gangsters, rapists, bank robbers and con-artists. And I've also taught the victims.'
--from my friend Mary Beth Matthews' incredible blog. If there's a better example of a teacher writing with vivid honesty about how urban public education really works in America, I've yet to come across it. Here's hoping this heroic woman continues to touch young lives with her almost freakish dedication. I also hope she'll one day write a book full of all she knows about what takes place in school classrooms. It would be an unforgettable book. I couldn't help noticing how she evidently follows the progress of her former students over a lifetime with the same kind of perpetual interest that I have about anyone I've written about in the past.


At 7:32 PM, Blogger Copper said...

My only complaint about this fabulous writer is that her schedule (I'm sure) doesn't permit her enough time to post more often. Talk about leaving your audience wanting more!

At 9:09 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

But then you know what they say: the best advertisement of all for a Broadway play is an inability to secure tickets. The same dynamic works in writing.
And if you happen to be Rita, dear Copper, I would say the same applies in your case--we'd like some more frequency.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Diane Vogel Ferri said...

As a teacher it is always comforting and inspiring to hear from others in the trenches ...

At 5:04 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I don't doubt that, Diane. Now that you mention it, you two really ought to meet sometime. Let me know if I can facilitate that.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger marybeth said...

John Ettorre, you have the most gentle style of prodding I have ever encountered.
Thank you for sending me the link to this post. I am so flattered by the kind words here, that I will immediately grab my camera, walk out into the hallway, snap a photo or two, and write about my day.
The school year has been going so smoothly, that although I've been busy, I haven't been riled up or disturbed about anything. The problems I encounter in my teaching day are usually what inspire many of my posts, but (darn it) life here at Max Hayes has been pretty good lately.


At 2:28 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Awfully glad to hear that, MB. And I wasn't prodding. I was merely calling attention to inspired work.


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