May 13, 2019

Dear Campus School Families,

During the spring term of this year I taught a class in the Department of Education that was a study of the modern American teaching profession. I will teach the same class this fall, and I look forward to both the subject matter and engagement of Smith students, who so impressed me with their intelligence and commitment to discourse and analysis.

Of course, I think about teaching all the time, but having to plan and teach a course on this subject certainly refocused my attention. One of my simple takeaways from the class and subject – and this comes from both the readings we did and the shared educational experiences of my students – was how present our former teachers are in our lives. I think about my former teachers all the time, and not just those teachers that I had in college or high school. I think about my kindergarten and third and sixth grade teachers, about my elementary school art teacher and junior high school lacrosse coach. These teachers all made an impact on me. I remember some of what they taught, but I really remember who they were – their personalities and character – and the ways they seemed genuinely interested in me and the other students.

Unfortunately, I am at that age when I have started to see the obituaries of former teachers. This always catches me by surprise – these teachers seemed eternal, somehow beyond time. Or perhaps I merely kept them frozen in time. And perhaps this is as it should be. My memories of my 6th grade teacher will always be linked to a certain point in time and the person she was then.

But these memories that we carry of our former teachers do, indeed, keep them alive in real and powerful ways – and point to the lingering and long lasting effects of their influence. From this perspective perhaps it should be our “former” teachers, for in real ways they continue to teach us long after we are no longer their students.