Tuesday, September 27, 2011


“Let me say before we part, so much of me is made of what I learned from you.  You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart.  And know whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine by being my friend...” ~Elphaba (from Wicked)

Jay Maebori, WA
There is physical pain in saying goodbye for me.  I feel it when my 8th graders graduate or when a student moves away.  But the heaviness that squeezes my heart today after having said goodbye to the other 2011 State Teachers of the Year is nearly suffocating.

Wilma Ortiz, MA
We have met as a cohort four times over the course of this year—in Dallas, where we were prepped for the year; in DC where we were set forth to use our voices; in Alabama where we learned to take risks; and finally, this last trip in New Jersey and New York City where we were able to process our insecurities, confusions, dreams, and futures.

Jennifer Facciolini, NC
The relationships built through these trips have grown to become part of our identities, both professionally and personally. I know what this looks like from the outside. We have, after all, only spent a total of 22 days out of 8 months in one another’s company; it sounds absurdly shallow to say that these are some of my best friends.  But we have been woven together during a time when we are juggling the complexities of new roles and being immersed in experiences at home and nationally that have changed who we are.  Not one of the 55 of us is the same teacher or person we were a year ago.  And in the midst of exciting, turbulent change, we have needed to reach out to those who fully understand, simply because they are experiencing the same.  And I think this is a difficult concept for many of our colleagues, friends, and families to accept. 

Erika Webb, KY
And I understand.  Because how is it possible to fully describe my preciously wild Wilma, who embraces me each time we meet and reaches out to hold my hand during dinner?  Or my steadfast Jennifer who lets me curl up on her bed in my pajamas in the middle of the night, and then says just the right things to ease my mind?  How do I explain that my beautiful Erika’s spirit is so much the same as mine, that the very first time we met, we fell into a conversation like old friends?  There is no way to articulate my comrade Jay’s ability to make me laugh aloud at absurdities, and then moments later delve into a serious discussion about pedagogy, a good novel, or humanity.  And words cannot accurately capture the treasured friendship of my dear Paul, whose honest, forthright conversations have accompanied me on many long meanderings through Alabama heat, city traffic, and riverside trails.
Paul Andersen, MT

These are my people.  And I have fallen in love with them. They have reinvigorated my teaching and challenged my thinking.  They are part of what defines me.  They have left “handprints on my heart.” There are many things that have taken me by surprise this year, but nobody prepared me for the intensity of the friendships I would build, nor the heartache of leaving those people on a warm September morning in Times Square.  
But then I remember,  we were all brought together because we can make amazing things happen—and there’s nothing so amazing about visiting an old friend. We’ll see each other again. It’s what friends do, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Angie,
    What a beautiful, lovely post. In some ways, I feel like I truly understand because of my Abu Dhabi friends who have become a part of my soul here, as they travel through the same stresses, changes and experiences. You are so remarkable and I have loved how you have allowed us to share your journey of the NH TOY. Thank you for sharing so much and enriching me as a teacher and professional (not to mention as a person).