In 1969, (I know, readers thought I was going to write “Stonewall,” but I am not!) I started student teaching with Florence Atu-Yarney and Ann Jo Carter. The two semesters I spent with them at Lincoln Junior and Senior High School were transformative in ways that I am still trying to untangle in my mind. Like many student teachers of the time, I was just 21 years old. Because it was during the Vietnam War, I even had a student who was several months older than me, staying in school until he finished or reached 22. But unlike most student teachers, I had two amazing cooperating teachers who were masterful at instruction, pedagogy, and social justice for the students we taught. It wasn’t so much that I was unfamiliar with these topics, but I had not witnessed them so completely integrated into a classroom before. Most days it felt like I needed a seat belt just to stay on board.
During that first year, I worked hard and learned from Ann Jo, Florence, Joyce Thompson, Roger Palay, some other teachers, and my students. I learned to teach and I learned the necessity of doing that with as much integrity as I can muster.
Since 1969, I have never stopped teaching. I have had titles like auctioneer, appraiser, Director of Education, Director of Residency Education, Administrator, President, Psychologist, CEO, Principle Investigator, Consultant, Instructor, Adjunct Faculty — but they all boil down to teacher.
So, it is fitting that I would end my tenure as Founding President and CEO of Diverse and Resilient, with gratitude for my teachers — those who taught me perseverance, friendship, how to be a man, generosity, fidelity, love, and kindness. It is also likely predictable that I would still use my final public words as leader of the agency to teach. In this case, I use social modeling and direct instruction to illustrate that gratitude requires full-out willingness to have a good cry in public. How else will people understand fully the measure of wonder one brings to the kindness they have shown?