Today I am dedicated to getting Amy Poehler’s book read because it is due back at the library. This morning I read her chapter on Time Travel — how we can travel in time through people, places, and things. This idea caught my imagination, and I decided to “time travel” through my photos. And that is when I came upon these four lovely ladies.
This pic was taken at a Lehigh Senior High pep rally in October 2009. Christine, Bailee, Winny, and Izzy were sophomores at the time, and three of them were my students. I have maintained some form of contact with them via Facebook since their graduation. They were in the class of 2012 — my favorite class forever since I taught many of them all four years — and many at least 2 or 3 of the four years. I will probably never have the experience of working with the same group of young people for so many years, watching them grow and change and become even more of who they are. Here are my time travel thoughts on each one.
Christine: Hands down, Christine is one of the best students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. She has already graduated with a BA in Public Service from Florida International University, and I believe she is pursuing teaching high school math while she gets her Masters. Christine has substitute taught in my classroom, and I think her future as a teacher or administrator of public policy makes us all lucky people.
Traveling back in time, I see Christine in a discussion circle informing her classmates what Animal Farm is really all about. She is acting out a part in Antigone. She is writing a showstopping poem based on a conversation between two people. She analyzing Robert Frost’s “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” in a unique, yet possibly relevant, way. I see her practicing furtively for Academic Challenge and doing her best to help her team win. I see her stopping by my classroom when she was well into her college-level classes asking me for one last reference letter.
I am graced to have an adult-style friendship with Christine. Last time I saw here was at a three hour lunch over Christmas break where we worked out all the problems of the world and made a vow to continue to do our part to save it. With someone like Christine in my life, I will always feel that I can save the world when the right people with more time and energy are by my side.
Bailee: Bailee was never one of my students at LSHS, but somehow we became Facebook friends after graduation and I have watched her go through her college experience. She graduated University of South Florida last weekend and is going to be a teacher. What I know about Bailee is that she is an amazing writer. She doesn’t suffer fools or bad grammar at all. She and I share a birthday, and she definitely has more Leo Fire in her than I do.
What is great about Bailee, beside what I wrote above, is that she is firmly dedicated to teaching and writing. These are her strengths, and she knows how to play to them. She speaks her mind. No apologies when it comes to Bailee — you are either with her or not. Not necessarily a bad thing for a young person who has places to go and things to do. I say, Go Bailee! Set the world on fire like I know you can.
Winny: I only taught Winny the year this picture was taken. She is a scientifically-minded person, and didn’t give two hoots about Language Arts — well, besides knowing writing is important. I don’t have much contact with Winny, beside Facebook friends and she is too busy to do much with it. I do know she took a fabulous trip to Alaska last year with her family. Those were great photos to see. She is a pharmacy tech and is attending University of Florida. I believe she still has goals to be a doctor: a worthy goal for this highly-intelligent and beautiful person.
What I remember most about Winny is feedback she gave me at the end of sophomore year. She said she had always hated poetry, but that through my class she found that she could understand it and appreciate it. What more can a teacher ask? I have no idea if she still feels the same way, but secretly I hope that poetry will help her in some way in her life. Students often question the worth of poetry — it is hard to get across that poetry is all of life. It is the very nature of time travel. It is everything.
Izzy: Out of all of these women, Izzy is the one I’ve known the longest. I taught her in 6th grade, and then I moved to high school just before she did, and she showed up in my 9th grade classroom. She is one of the most gifted and creative people I know; I knew it when she was 12, and I could still see it when she was 18.
Izzy inspires creativity in others. At one point she was in my Writing for College class. One day she walked in with a painting she had done of two llamas. This inspired the class to write collaborative stories about the llamas and reading them to the class. It was totally spontaneous, and one of the high points of the semester for us.
Last time I saw Izzy was just about a week ago — she was standing on Cypress Lake Drive by herself, wide smile on her face. I have no idea what she was doing. I was driving my nephew home from school at the time, so didn’t stop to talk with her. From her Facebook status I know she has once again boarded a plane to California, her favorite place to be. I think there are people there inspired by the unique brand of living that Izzy brings. Godspeed, girlfriend. Be well.
When I revisit the photo at the top of this page I see the bright future in the eyes of these girls. I see their celebration of every day living. I see writers and poets and painters and dreamers and goofy mistakes and giant steps and a world made just for them. I am blessed to have known each one of these young women, and to have been some small part of their lives. As we all continue to travel through time, I wish them all good things, always and forever.