Friday, June 10, 2011

Goodbyes and Hellos

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to some of the much-loved, much-admired and hugely appreciated teachers who have worked with us in recent years. Renata McAdams, I can't tell you how much we will miss you. I can't even bear to think about it. Jan Biliti, Ruth Marks, Jesse Metcalf-Burton, your talent and warmth has enriched us so much. You will always have a special place in our hearts. All of us at Summers-Knoll wish you all an absolutely wonderful future, whether it holds retirement, a move to a different state or a different focus of career. Stay in touch.

And simultaneously it's very exciting to be able to welcome new faculty. Again, we have been amazingly fortunate in the people who have chosen to come and work with us at our school. Mark Benglian, Chris Swinko, Val Tibbs-Wynne, George Albercook, Cara Talaska, Tracy Gallup - I feel indescribably lucky and honored to have teachers of your caliber and commitment joining our team. You are an inspiring bunch!

It's hard to say goodbye to wonderful friends and colleagues. The consolation is that next year is looking amazing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Poems for the Graduates

Today we marked the passage from elementary to middle school for our 4th and 5th graders (our new middle school starts at 5th grade this coming fall). As always, I wrote each student a poem to mark this transition in their lives. Here they are!


Listens to a fairy tale
And hears a story of social justice,
Human rights,
A call to action.

Writes a fairy tale
With words she found one day
At the end of a rainbow.

Has a heart that catches fire
And a spirit that snatches words
Out of the wind.


To Alec
The world is an endless place of discovery.
He wants to see it,
Be there, explore,
Taste it.
New flavors bursting on the tongue.
Capture it, keep the recipe,
Recreate it.
Share it with friends.

For Alec,
A book is an endless place of discovery,
He enters it,
Explores it, lives it,
Tastes it like a sunburst on the tongue
Of his imagination.

My wish for Alec:
May you meet all your adventures
With this same curiosity and joy.
May the flavors be exciting
And different
In ways that explode in ideas
In your amazing brain.
And then, may you write it all into a book
So that other Alecs
Can share the endless discovery
That is your path through life.


Trent is an old style warrior.

He can be a knight in shining armor
Upon a noble steed.
Tell him the tale of the unfortunate child
Lost in the woods
Harassed by wolves
And Trent rides over there in a heartbeat.
The wolves run for cover.
The child is saved.
Trent rides on to the next adventure.

Sometimes he is a Jedi.
He solves problems from afar,
Sending the Force of his personality
To end conflict,
Calm strife.

And sometimes he’s a Visigoth,
A Vandal or a Hun,
Joining a barbarian horde
To overrun civilization
And laugh in the face of his enemies.

He is practicing for the day
When he becomes
The champion of the world
The peacemaker of the ages
The standard-bearer of justice.


The world is an electrical circuit board
And the power source is
Atticus’s brain.

The world is a gigantic robot.
Atty holds the
Remote control.

The world is a computer
Busy calculating
The reasons for
And Wrong.
Atticus programs the computer
And manages the data.

When Atty talks
Lights light up,
Beepers go beep
Gears whirr
And ideas connect to ideas that lead to ideas
And the electric circuitry of the world
Hums to life.


Saul is precise.
He explores the jungle of the world
Carefully, on paths he has
Laid out
With thought
And clarity.

Step by step
He overcomes the jungle,
Laying the next length of path
Pushing further into
The tangled bewilderment of vines.

Saul comes to a thicket
He cannot see within.
But he knows there is a tiger,
He is sure there is a tiger
And maybe it’s the kind
Of tiger that
Breathes fire.

That’s pretty scary stuff. Even the tiger is scared.

Saul points out the path to the tiger.
He points out the path to the thicket.
He points out the path to the jungle.

This is the path
Of order and clarity.
This is the path
Of knowledge and understanding.
On this path
Are justice and peace.

One day Saul will make a map
Of the paths he makes,
He will step into the jungle
With his map in his pocket
Off the track
Off the trail
Into the wild places.
Knowing where the paths are, knowing where the stars are,
He will find his way
With the tiger by his side.


Lydia draws a horse
And it takes off at a gallop.
It has a wild mane and tail
That tangle with the wind.
Grace and power swirl from her pencil point.

Lydia holds grace and power
In her heart.
The horse that leaps from her pencil
Runs in her bloodstream
And races across the open spaces
Of her imagination.

Run with the horse, Lydia.
You are as swift.
Go where the horse goes.
She will be your guide.
Let your wildness tangle in the wind:
The horse will show you how.


Lives in an origami maze
Of his own making
More complex than ordinary mortals
Could ever comprehend,
Cunning beyond belief.

It is folded in patterns
Based on mathematical principles
That have yet to be discovered
By the world at large.

Only in Jesse’s class are these concepts known.

There is
An entire city folded
Within the paper labyrinth.
A paper White House holds
The quarters of the President.
The Defense Secretary (Max)
Has luxurious accommodations
As do the Chief of Police (Max)
The Supreme Professor of Shakespeare (Max)
And the CEO of the Humane Society for the Protection of Skeletal Devils
(also Max).

These multiple Maxes are also a result
Of mathematical discoveries
In Jesse’s class.

Sometimes they all get together
And go over to Danny’s house
For a pillow fight.

And sometimes they stop and listen
To the sound of paper folding
As the origami maze
And grows
And grows
In its quest to take over the world.


If the world were made of pillows
Danny would be free
To go swimming in the billows
Of a pillow-crested sea.

He’d have a house built snugly
Of pillow walls and floors
He’d welcome friends in smugly
Through the soft, inviting doors.

Each one would have a weapon,
An instrument of doom
Made out of silk and feathers.
They’d gather in a room

And a challenge would be given
And they’d smite with cushy blows
And their pillows would be driven
Like marshmallows at their foes.

And when they were exhausted
With laughter and with war
They’d collapse upon their pillows
And they’d all begin to snore.

And outside the pillow cloudlets
High in the gentle sky
Would tear open their covers
And feather snow would fly.


Lukas plays the violin.
Music comes out of his fingers like ribbons
that wind and float and weave
they get inside children’s heads and make patterns
and the children start to work.

Ink factory. Get leaves, get berries, water.
Smush. Mix. Add more berries.
Sunlight slants through the trees like the high pure sound
of a violin.

Lukas plays. Running like the rippling notes
of an arpeggio,
Calling to friends with melodic rise and fall,
organizing funerals,
all in black,
or playing wedding marches
on his violin.

Lukas plays the violin,
like he was born to do it.
His soul comes out to play
and makes magic happen.