Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Cutting Down Trees

My uncle once started to trim a tree to keep it under control, but was interrupted by a pressing errand and left the scene in a hurry. The saw was hastily left resting against the trunk of the tree. My cousin - wanting to make up for a previous indiscretion - arrived home, saw an opportunity to help, and gave his heart and soul to finishing the job of cutting the entire tree right down to the ground before his dad came home. Excited words and a heated argument ensued over the rationale for the decision. Eventually they found common ground; regardless the tree was down. A year later, the newly landscaped yard was the source of much pleasure as result of new opportunity for design. 

In the last weeks of late summer preparations for the school year I watched through my office window as many tall, stately trees were cut down across the street. A previously empty lot became a construction site. With some sadness I noticed how different and bare things looked. There is something about cutting a tree down that feels so permanent as many years of growth ends so abruptly. 

Perhaps at some point decades ago East London residents had the same observation when the shovel first met the ground to create our original school building in 1961, or with subsequent additions. The trees are gone, but their ending made way for our beginning. 

Some endings hurt, especially so if we don’t see or understand the new beginnings they create. Teachers frequently find themselves trying to encourage students to take risks and move to next steps in their own learning. That may mean making a leap of trust, making a necessary ending,  or creating a new beginning in terms of a mindset they have toward something.

May our students have the wisdom and courage to choose well, and act bravely wherever they are.  SJ

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