Today is Juneteenth. In honor of the day, here’s one of my favorite poems, written by Langston Hughes.

Theme for English B
The instructor said, Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you— Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

National Teacher Appreciation Week

This week has been designated as teacher appreciation week, so I wanted to spread some love to the great teachers I know.

First of all, my wife Natalie is a great English language arts teacher, which has never been more evident than in the past few weeks as she’s worked to transition to an online learning environment that is still welcoming and supportive for her students.

My oldest son has great teachers at Cleona Elementary School. Mrs. Fuddy and Mrs. Zechman have both gone above and beyond in supporting his growth as a student and a person. And Mr. Brophy’s gym/health class is one of his favorites too.

Finally, I owe a debt to the many incredible teachers who’ve had to put up with me over the years. Without a doubt, I’ll miss some here–otherwise, this note would be many pages long. But I do want to give a special shout out to Brian Smith, Penny Hammrich, Liz Haslam, Aroutis Foster, Mike Arnzen, Lee Tobin McClain, Tom Lipinsky, Mike Moffett, Jimmie Lee, and Mrs. Wells (in first grade, we didn’t know the teachers’ first names). They all worked with me across formal and informal educational settings, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. (So, if you don’t like me, blame them!)