Monday, May 23, 2011
September 1st of this year will mark a milestone for me. It will be the beginning of my fifth year at Eckerd College. I've never been at one job this long, and I don't see any signs that I'll be going anywhere else. I won't say ever, since always in motion is the future, but I will say that I have no desire to change jobs, and so long as the school and I agree on that, here is where I'll stay. Last night I went back through my blog entries as I was interviewing for, and then got this job, and everything that I said, and hoped about this gig has remained or been proven true. It's very groovy. :-)
Yesterday was also a milestone in that it was the first time I'd attended the commencement ceremonies. Every year since I started here I had intended to go to graduation, but the ceremony is held at 8am on a Sunday morning, and due to my wife's work schedule, the COA's lack of self control when left unattended, and the 'just five more minutes' syndrome when the alarm goes off at 4am on a Sunday, have all conspired to keep me away. This year, though, the students who were graduating all started when I did, so I've watched them go from somewhat scared and wide-eyed Freshmen to competent,capable, much less scared Seniors, and I felt it was both my duty, and my pleasure to be there on their special day. It is an understood reality for teachers that we must say goodbye to our students. Most of the time there is little emotion involved, other than a handshake a a wishing of luck in the future, but there are those rare occasions when a student becomes a friend, and the parting is particularly bittersweet. We are happy for, and proud of our students, but there is a sadness when those special few move on, and this was one such time. That is not to say that there haven't been students who's departure left a hole in my heart before this year, but I think this is the first time that so many of our graduates had made such an impact on me. So I hauled my ass out of bed at 4am, hit the road at 6, and was in my office by 6:30. The campus filled with parents, grandparents, friends, family, and assorted support staff very quickly. My colleagues donned their robes and mortar boards, and went to process in. I honestly don't know if I'm expected/allowed to join in the procession as I exist in a gray area between faculty and staff, so I just donned something denim-free and joined the audience. The ceremony was, as usual at such things, not the most exciting event, and being as it was staged in a huge tent outdoors the temperature rose quickly with the climbing sun. Speeches were spoke, awards were awarded (congrats, Lauren), and honorary degrees conferred. Then came the time I was there for. The seniors rose, and the names began to be read. Christina was first, then Lauren, then Casey, then Luke, then Christy. I felt a flutter in my chest as each of their names were read, sadness and joy wrestling for dominance there. There were about five-hundred other names to be read, so it was not a quick morning, but eventually the class of 2011 was completed, and a huge roar went up from the crowd. Afterward hugs were dispensed, along with promises of staying in touch. We always say that, and in this age of Facebook and twitter it may even happen, but I cannot help but feel a bit saddened at the reality that chances are that yesterday was the last time I'll ever seem most of them. But the proud smiles on their faces, and the gleaming, brand new futures ahead of them make it all worth while. As much as I'll miss them, I know that each of them has a grand adventure ahead, and I wish them all success, happiness, and fulfillment. It has been an honor to work with them, and I thank them for making my job successful, happy, and fulfilling.
Happy trails, my friends.