Reflection While on Morning Duty

I work at a Middle School near Bozeman, Montana. There is an elementary school across the football field from us, we share a common bus lane to load and unload students every day.

Needless to say, this time of year, most readers of this tripe would consider our weather to be quite cold, and we have some rather large piles of snow along the field fence as we have cleared the snow from the bus lane.

The week started off with a bang this morning as I watched a kindergarten student get off the bus and walk toward the elementary school. He was fully bundled in his snow clothes, and thank goodness he also had a full backpack. Had a bit of trouble getting his feet under him as he got off the bus, slipped and fell a couple of times before he found his land legs, and the bus aide had to help him get back up.

Why a kindergarten student has a backpack that weighs about half as much as he does is another story for another day.

Enjoyed watching him walk toward his building. He was truly on a mountain expedition as he successfully, and without falling, climbed every large pile of snow he encountered. I am sure that in his mind, he conquered Mt. Everest and every other mountain he has seen in his brief life. His imagination had to be working in overdrive!

I only hope that when he walked into his classroom, his teacher tapped into it, and as I am writing this, I hope his imagination is still in Warp Factor 3, and he isn’t filling in the blanks on the latest worksheet that is claiming to teach him to read.

And so it goes…


There was a disruption in the Force yesterday. A retired educator, Mr. David Beaman, passed away. Mr. Beaman was one of my junior high math teachers, and he moved with us to the high school, so I was able to take a couple of math classes under him while there.

He must have done well, I had a high enough math score on my ACT that I didn’t have to take any math as an undergraduate.

Granted, a lot of years have passed since I left high school. And I’m sure that somewhere among the intervening years, I applied at least some of the things that Mr. Beaman taught me in his math classes.

But like all fantastic teachers, I remember much more about his empathy, his willingness to do whatever it took to connect with us on a personal level than I do about algebra or geometry.

I was blessed to have a group of teachers through junior high, (we hadn’t invented middle school in the late 1960’s), who taught students, not subjects. He was one. I can’t remember wanting to go into education as a career when I was that age, just know that many of us enjoyed their classes, learned a lot, and certainly appreciated their guidance on our journey through adolescence.

As a college music education major, and later as a teacher, I had the opportunity to visit with that group of teachers and pick their brains for all they could share with a newly minted educator who understood that college preparation programs, then as now, leave a lot to be desired.

To my knowledge, only one of that group of my former teachers is still living, all have been retired for a long time. But the magic of social media allows us to continue to ask and learn.

Godspeed, and thanks, Mr. Beaman, Mr. Brown, Mr. Deyoe, Mr. Kincaid, Mr.Gardner, Mr. Ballard, Mr. Fowler…a few of us are doing our best to carry your legacies. Like to think that you would be proud of us.