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A Letter to a Rare Breed – An Assistant Principal Who Cared

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Dear Ms. S.,

Thank you for the note. I was pleased, in a fashion, when I heard you were retiring. With all of the rote, cookie cutter jargon based banter that is passing for ‘education strategy’ these days, I don’t think someone of your caliber really fits in. I emember you as someone who was willing to think unsanctioned thoughts, who wouldn’t limit herself to the official 3×5 card of approved opinions granted to us by our overlords. I feel I don’t ‘fit in’ much anymore either, but I am (ahem) a little further away from retirement…

It’s too bad you weren’t able to stay here at the high school. I ran through the Chekhov’s “The Bet” again, with decent results. “How Much Land Does a Man Need” (Tolstoy) went over well. Funny how the writers from that era got the job done, and allowed the kind of intellectual exploration that can’t be quantified on a “SLO” or an “APPR”. I think we’re taking a turn for the worse with this latest round of ‘reform’. The irony speaks for itself that I have to make copies of these stories as they are nowhere to be found on ‘The List’.

Because I do ‘The Odyssey’ first, I’m thinking of tying in the parallels to the Arthurian legend / Myth that parallels the Greek paradigm, beginning with the Round Table of 12 Knights, the 12 main Greek gods, the 12 lost tribes of Israel, the 12 constellations – you get the idea. I have found in my readings of late that there is a school of thought that posits that the geography that Homer sets out is cockeyed, random and out of sorts because Odysseus’ journey was around the Baltic Sea, Not the Meditteranean! The Holocene Climatic Optimum – much warmer temperatures – would have had the peoples from the story further North. Pretty interesting stuff. It would be nice of course to be able to discuss these things at work. Perhaps we can continue our discussions at a later time.

I feel you’re yet another of your generation leaving what was once a proud and honorable profession, concerned most with leaving the younger generation with culturally rich underpinnings in addition to being able to think critically and independently. We are losing many of those people this year – the retirement list is long with quality instructional talent. Too bad you spent the last few years attempting to clean out the Augean Stables of cant and hypocrisy rather than being able to respond to your true calling of instructing the next group coming on through.

I enjoyed our short time working together, and I will always remember it.

Sincerely,

Mr. M.

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