The time I spent working with those students and their teachers was a memorable period in my career; and today I was given the opportunity to express my thanks to these young men and women for their dedication and persistence in working through the political process to honor their community’s rich American Indian heritage. My educational philosophy can be summed up in a quote I have seen attributed to a variety of people, but the earliest reference I have found credits Plutarch: “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
The small part I was able to play in kindling the fire in the minds of those fourth graders is something that I will always cherish. And they can always look back on their accomplishment with satisfaction and well-earned pride.
Mary Borgia, one of the fourth grade teachers, quoted A. A. Milne’s Christopher Robin in her remarks: “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” That made me think of one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems, but I couldn’t remember it well enough to include in at the time.
So, here’s how I wish I had been able to sum up my appreciation to those former fourth graders:
Listen to the mustn’ts, child, Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves,Then listen close to me —Anything can happen, child, Anything can be. Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends Brad Lepper [I revised this post to include Mary Borgia’s quote from A. A. Milne. In the original post I said I thought she had quoted Dr. Seuss, but Jeff Gill corrected me. Thanks, Jeff!]