[name withheld by request]
Please withhold my name and e-mail address.
I have been pondering this letter for some 36 hours now, knowing that I would not submit it until such time as I felt our school community had prevailed in the task it had set out to do. The love I have for this community and for this school tonight emanates from just about every fiber of my being. And I suppose it is that last crumb of the enormous anxiety that had nearly consumed me over the last few days that keeps me from writing my name to this letter. I hope that in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation that are ahead of all of us at ISM that you can grant me this last remnant of doubt. When I set foot in the classroom tomorrow, I will have washed that doubt free and have purged if you will the last bastion of fear associated with all that has transpired this week and in the months that led to it.
I have read the many words on this site at various times of the day and night over the past week, and I admit to having found solace in what I have read on these pages, particularly in the dead of night when the pangs of disconcertment in not knowing the future attacked and admittedly chipped away at my conviction for our cause. These pages and the message they send were of great importance to me personally and professionally. The degree to which these words emboldened me against what appeared at times insurmountable odds I may never fully understand. I can say this much as I try to write with the ideas still fresh in my head; I would have been hard pressed to hold firm if it had not been for the support that I felt from our community in the pages of this website, especially in those lonely hours when the enormity of what was going on grabbed hold of me in the shadows of my sleepless nights.
In political circles one is often given the caveat by reasonable and well-minded people that words cannot be trusted and that the best tool a person has at his disposal to get what he wants is his critical eye and his instinct to distrust those around him. I am aware of books that teach of a Machiavellian approach to conflict resolution, where trickery and underhanded maneuvering win out in the REAL world and good men and women pay for this in due kind. I am a realist enough to know that there are numerous times where this is true in the many conflicts of the world.
Before the events of this week, I considered myself a "peacetime romantic" to coin a term. I spoke of the value of standing up for what one believes, for showing one's true colors in the face of adversity, and yes I have tried to impart these same ideas to your children in the courses I have been hired to teach. I have believed in the value of these things and I have had occasion to prove to myself that these ideas are in fact connected to my philosophy on life and on teaching as a whole. But the truth be told, I hadn't really REALLY put these ideas to the test with so much at stake so much far beyond the scope of my own interests than I have in the past week alongside so many others.
I've watched the faces of the people in my community like I've not done since becoming a member within it some time back. I'm not sure if it was the feeling that I might soon lose all of what I'd helped to build or if it was a wonderment at just how all these people of so many backgrounds and realities could come together for the ideals that hold this school and this community together. The sense of community I feel as I attempt to calm down tonight and get some well-deserved sleep is amazingly palpable.
I'd like to thank my colleagues (faculty, staff, and administration) and the parents of all three schools for refreshing in me this almost giddy belief in what is right, in challenging me through my fears, and in supporting me in my moments of doubt over the past few days.
I'd also like to thank the students who have written so passionately about all that has happened to their school and in reminding me that my actions do affect those I care about, regardless of how much I know what I am doing is right. Every one of you spoke to me, almost through me if that makes any sense, on these pages and I can't express my gratitude enough for having been taught a valuable lesson about what can truly happen when good people do indeed stand up for what they believe in.
I have to admit that I am as guilty as anyone else in spreading the caveat of not trusting the words that other people use and being suspicious of things simply because they are uttered or written on a page. This notion is in fact central to the idea of critical thought and we are right to tell are students how to use this skill to succeed in the world. Yet this statement though true is not the only truth about the words people say and write. And because there is so much in the world that makes people distrustful it is a remarkable thing to have those around you say what they mean and act accordingly when it counts the most.
The events of last week truly put all of that to the test for me and I know many other people. We have navigated a potential disaster together, one capable of destroying the institution and community that binds us. And now we come through scathed for sure but perhaps that much stronger for the ordeal.
I can now look upon this experience with a sense of rebirth, one not hindered by fear, but instead with a sense that when the chips are really down it is indeed possible to say what you mean and stand by it, truly and utterly so. And I am both humbled and proud to have taken these steps with you, all of you, to the betterment of the school and the community we all care so much about.
From a weary yet invigorated teacher of your children.