Some newsletters are effortless and joyful to write. They practically write themselves in a stream of consciousness style that leads me to believe I could have, and perhaps should have, been a writer.
Other newsletters, well, they confound me and remind me of why I am not, and probably should not be, a writer. I will let you decide privately which one is the better choice.
Late last night, tired and worn out from the road, I went looking for inspiration for the year's final missive. I Googled "great teachers" and among plethora of responses that came up was a video clip of Robin Williams playing a mid-century English teacher in Dead Poets Society. If you have not seen this movie, you are missing out on one of the finest films about teaching ever made.
Never having taken a poetry class or having a natural disposition towards this art form, I had never read Walt Whitman's epic tome and decided to look it up. It turns out that this elegy was composed by Whitman after Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865. Despite never having met Lincoln in person, Whitman considered him to be a very influential person in his life, hence the title O Captain! My Captain!
Whitman's poem is in part a metaphor for what you do each and every day, serving as a Captain to a young crew and guiding them safely into port. I am confident that your ten month journey has not always been easy, nor always happy, but certainly more than worthwhile.
With that in mind and as yet another year comes to a close, I share Walt Whitman's words...
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
It is not the journey your students will remember, but the one who guided them on it. For these young people and their families, you are:
O Captain! My Captain!
THANK YOU for your continued service to young people everywhere. Have a restful and relaxing summer break.