Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Goodnight, Sweet Princes"

Schools are great fonts of expertise.  We each have our own specialties and fields of interest.  Want to know about the evidence in the Gilgo Beach murders?  Ask Melissa, the forensics teacher.  Want someone to explain the electoral college to you yet once again?  Ask Chris, the AP Government teacher.  Have a leak in your sink?  Ask Brian, the tech teacher.  Want to know come your bowling ball always arcs to the right?  Ask Steve, the physics guy because as he says, "Everything is physics."  Each of us knows how to teach, but more than that, each of us LOVES his subject.  Get a teacher to talk about his subject, and you can't usually stop him.  And for me, it's my books, my characters.  And boy, am I going to miss them.

Of course, I will always be a lifetime reader, but I don't know how often I will actually pick up one of my "school" books since one thing I am absolutely looking forward to is to be able to read whatever I want, whenever I want.  I mean, I have literally read and re-read and re-read these books many, many times.  And because of that, I have become close friends with so many of my favorite characters, whom I have always known I could visit from year to year.

So it will indeed be time to say goodbye to Romeo and to Juliet and to all the beautiful poetry that Shakespeare has put into their young mouths. "It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich,  jewel in an Ethiop's ear-beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!"  I will have to bid farewell to Ethan Frome, forever stuck in that snowbound farmhouse with two carping women.  So long to Blanche DuBois, that delightfully demented faded Southern Belle.  And Hester Prynne, one of the gutsiest heroines ever, standing proudly on that scaffold with her illegitimate baby.  I'll have to leave the wonderful and resilient Joad family in that rain soaked barn, wondering if they'll ever find a home, Guy Montag with the old English professors marching toward the city to record their memorized books, Huck Finn "lighting out for the territories," and Jay Gatsby yearning for the green light at the end of Daisy's dock.  And I'll have to leave one of my favorites of all time, the doomed but oh so noble Sydney Carton as he goes to a "far, far better place."

All these and so many more, good friends who have helped me try to give the joy of reading to my students over the years.  I could receive no greater satisfaction than when a kid will say to me that he LOVED a book we read and that it has become his favorite.  That has been the greatest gift I feel I have given because as the poster in my room says, "A book is a present that you can open again and again."

So yes, I am so looking forward to my "free" reading, but saying "Goodnight, sweet prince" to Hamlet is going to be really hard.

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