Beauty At The Still Point

Reflection comes easy when the view is right – my thoughts at the conclusion of my teacherpreneurship.

On top of the bluff at 32° 22′ 09.50″ N, 111° 0′ 19.07″ W, you find a still point in the turning world. Facing east and scanning from the Sierrita Mountains in the north to the Santa Rita Mountains in the south, and back, marks a path 200 miles long. Covering that distance 30 times shows you the distance to the earth’s core. Covering it 100 times would circumnavigate the planet. Ten times that distance gets you to the Moon rising over the Catalinas in the east, and 400 times that distance gets you to the sun, setting at your back.

We live in a measurable world. And within the limits of space and time we’ve discovered the mechanisms behind the formation of the earth, mountains, moon, and sun. A few equations of physics and chemistry delineate the movement of energy and atoms that builds the saguaro growing to my right and creates the song of the cactus wren that sits on top. The wren takes off and directs my eyes to a rainbow forming high over the Catalinas. Aerodynamics and optics cover the bird’s flight and the rainbow’s colors.

But no equation explains why we long to fly like birds or breathe deep at the sight of rainbows.

There’s nothing new about this train of thought, I know, but I stop here on my walks and T.S. Elliot’s poem comes alive. Past and future gather at this still point. There is neither from nor towards, no ascent nor decline. And yet neither is there fixity. But, except for this still point, “There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

I also think of C. S. Lewis’ line that humans are hybrid creatures, half within the boundaries of time and half without.

Recently, when I stop at the still point, I’ve been considering my year as a teachepreneur, splitting my time between classroom teaching and leadership work for the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) and the Arizona K12 Center (AZK12 Center). Many thoughts revolve around things bounded by time and space. They include memories of helping to build and deliver the Teacher Leader Initiative and Ed Week Every Week, developing and teaching engineering and algebra lessons that are compliant with my school’s demanding IB curriculum, writing for two blogs (1, 2), working together with beloved colleagues from around the country to move the profession forward, and learning alone how to balance it all.

These temporal thoughts fix mostly on the failures, which illuminate the path ahead. Moving forward as a full time teacher once again, I want to create and deliver lessons better than ever and build and strengthen relationships with new and old colleagues, students, and families. Continuing as a teacher leader, I hope to contribute to the work of CTQ and the AZK12 Center, and write.

But mostly my thoughts revolve around things not bounded by time and space, most specifically: Gratitude.

Thanks to all my colleagues at Safford K8 IB World School for their supportive words and the extra work they took on to make my teacherpreneur year possible. Many spent hours adjusting schedules and taking on new teaching roles so that I could be released half-time. I hope I can repay you somehow.

Thanks to the support professionals at Safford, the AZK12 Center, and CTQ. I hope somehow I can repay you, too.

Thanks to Tucson Unified School District for releasing me half time. Superintendent HT Sanchez offered his support as soon as he heard of the opportunity, and the Board approved unanimously. Please continue to support teachers who desire to lead without leaving.

Thanks to the teacherpreneurs, teachers-in-residence, and teacher leaders everywhere (with a special shout out to Arizona folks!) with whom I’ve worked this year. Every day is better because of your inspiration and friendship.

Thanks to Mary and Seth and August. Simply, thanks.

I’ve mostly avoided names because I know that I’ll remember more as soon as I upload this post. But the following six must be named, each of whom awakes every morning and asks anew, “How can I help a teacher today?”

The first time I told Tari Tenace, my former principal, about teacher leadership she said, “Wait! You’re talking about a grassroots movement by teachers to take back the profession!” Her support since that moment has been unconditional.

Executive directors Barnett Barry and Ann Byrd from CTQ and Kathy Wiebke from the AZK12 Center formed a partnership that provided the material – time, resources, and compensation and the intangible – encouragement, vision and hope.

Taryl Hansen of the AZK12 Center and Melissa Rasberry of CTQ coached me and nurtured me and blessed me.

As I turn homeward after my moments on the bluff at this still point in the turning world, one last thanks, to God, escapes my lips. Thanks for a path that intersects with so many people for whom it can be said: You are the Beauty That Will Save The World.

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