I am a Gardener. Those who know me, know that I am not a gardener of gardens. In fact, most plants seem to wither and die under my care. No, I am a gardener of children. (A Kinder Gartener!) I take whatever young growth comes to the school and nurture it. I give it the nutrients, water, soil, and sun that it needs to turn into whatever blossom it is going to be. There is a video going around Facebook and YouTube about a young man named Andrew De Leon who is exactly the kind of flower which would prosper in our school garden. He dresses like a Goth and claims to be a failure at everything and yet he has this amazing voice. Until America's Got Talent, he was treated as a weed, someone who did not fit in the ordered, one-size-fits-all society of the masses. Daily we see repressed, misfit children reveal hidden talents and amazing gifts. So I am a gardener who sees a school not as a factory, which churns out productive citizens on a fixed and rigid system, but a garden where students can grow with the support and guidance to be whatever they can be.
I am an Artist. Again, I can't draw at all, but I am a writer and I know the power of imagination. We use the student's own imagination to gently allow them to explore, in all subjects, yes, even including mathematics, outside their box. Out of their tiny, often fantasy, where they escape from the world, comfort zone. Breaking out of their shell and taking flight. Yes, I am mixing metaphors and as an English teacher I should know better. I do. But the garden analogy can only be stretched so far. Because the students may be nurtured by the concrete physical world. We give them a safe launching pad with daily doses of mental and physical exercises. But the final goal is to allow them to soar above the garden. To use their imaginations, their self-confidence to pursue their passions, with firm roots in the here and now. To dream is one thing; to realize that dream in this present world is another. It is irresponsible not to teach them the tools they need to turn that dream into a viable, financially sound reality. So we are a garden of flower birds.
I am a Teacher. I till the soil and watch them soar. I couldn't imagine a better job. This is my passion and I soar each day!