YESTERDAY, I completed First Year. I was honestly spellbound as Robert battled first to gain control of his classes and then to enlighten them; as Kyle and Gail struggled with issues that confront dedicated teacher-to-non-teacher marriages; as Greg Schwartz grew from good teacher to excellent teacher and thoughtful human being; as Superintendent Alan Anderson redefined himself; as Principal Sam Strand fought to hold his school together while confronting the issue of retirement. After spending forty years of my life in education as a teacher, administrator and school board member, I recognized each of these people as friends I had known and loved and replaced the fictional characters' names with those of my friends.
I knew men like Pete Warrum, too ... acquaintances blinded by ambition who remained locked in their arrogance and anger in spite of losing all they cherished in life because of it.
I loved the lunchroom and lounge jousting. All teachers who mingle have shared in it. It provides the necessary comic relief to survive the remainder of the day in the classroom. School problems and situations, because of their sheer weight, often dominate teacher conversations in social settings. The lighter moments are a must to provide balance.
The First Year students were, of course, my students. When I served as principal at the alternative high school, many of our students were Frank Marin, and we even had one Ed Warrum. Skilled teachers and caring administrators like Kyle Hunter and Sam Strand, in spite of the excessive demands of their teaching and administrative loads, used every key in their key ring to open the locked doors to the storage boxes that were filled with the garbage in their students' lives.
The Billy Clouds and Patty Lights kept us all going. Their shared insights and depth of understanding enlightened other students in their classes and lifted the veil of shame some may have felt when they enjoyed a profound thought or an enlightened moment while reading "Mending Wall" or Emerson's essays.
I thoroughly enjoyed First Year. I have discussed it with others and plan to share it with some whose opinions I value. I believe marketed properly it will be widely read and a tool to enlighten those still serving in the classroom
retired public school teacher and administrator
Stewart, MN and Mankato, MN (Lincoln Jr. High, West High School and Central Alternative High School)