Penumbra for the Class of 2010
Penumbra is the magical moment when night moves into day like fairy dust and snow flurries. It is that time when every creeping thing and every resting thing waxes with pregnant light.
Even schoolteachers have their own penumbra.
For me, it is today.
Today, the school year ended for my 180 students. Most came in as timid freshmen and ended the year with a two-hour final exam that required subject mastery and a clear demonstration of academic growth.
They did well.
Last August, they came in as strangers and left as family. And even as they took their seats today for the first final of their high school years, it is today that the freshman from 2006 will march across the stage after debating back and forth whether their tassel should first be on the left or the right. They will have butterflies, and I will feel butterflies for them. They will settle and march out to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
That is their moment, but for me, it is much different.
Today, I recognize that I am part of the tapestry of life. My tiny thread, no matter how humble, has traced across the fabric of these 180 kids that will not be in my class again come Monday. My tiny thread has woven through to the seniors, the juniors, the sophomores, the graduates and into the future moms and dads who will maybe be inspired by something I did, or said.
I will second-guess some of my decisions.
I will accept my own inadequacies.
For me penumbra is also the moment of letting go, and the moment of remembering. It is the way hope stacks up like papers to grade.
It is the moment of knowing that I did my best, however difficult, with the impossible expectation of holding high standards with 39 kids per class. But right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is, we will not be together again for something as ordinary as a Monday or as extraordinary as laughter.
All the essays have been graded, the papers have been returned.
The grades are done and the goodbyes have been said.
I am a humble piece of this tapestry and a rung on the academic ladder than must be passed.
My classroom is clean and empty, my grades are in, and in a few minutes I will attend graduation for the Class of 2010. I hope they have many penumbra moments where the light is just right and their lives are filled with fairy dust and magical snow flurries. Do well, my friends.