You have probably seen the bumper sticker.
“If you can read this, thank a teacher.”
We are in the midst of another wonderful school year at Tallassee High School. Like a good book I was reading recently I didn’t want to end, knowing we are just weeks away from the end of the semester —already! — gives me pause. I really am enjoying myself and don’t want it to be over.
Yes, that does sound a little crazy. Teachers are always perceived in the movies as harried and ready for a break from kids, or worse yet, thrilled to be the one making a child’s life miserable. Neither is the case.
I have never known anyone who wakes up and comes to work thinking, “I want to yell at kids today.”
Our faculty and staff is top notch. To get to work with such wonderful people is a privilege. Occasionally, we have the opportunity to stand in the hallway between classes and speak with other faculty members. One day, a name popped up that I hadn’t heard in a while.
The topic of Truman Capote was being discussed. Everyone knows he is an Alabama native, and there have been volumes written about him; two biographical films have been made in recent years that try to make sense of the enigma.
Having lived in Capote’s Monroeville for a time, I have always been fascinated by his careful character study, “In Cold Blood.”
As the group of teachers stood in the hallway discussing the finer points of the book, I found myself remembering so much about the story — perhaps too much.
Capote’s true crime work tells the story of the Clutter family, living on a farm in tiny Holcomb, Kansas, and how they became victims of two greasy drifters who slay the entire family. Capote spends the first third of the book introducing us to the characters, with their shared destinies on a collision course to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere: a nice middle-American family clueless of their brutal fate.
Even in the 21st century, where the bad news flies fast and furious, this story has not lost its ability to shock. Capote’s approach — to make the killers into sympathetic characters — remains unique in the world of the written word.
Somewhere along the line, a teacher paved the way for my love of reading. I would credit my mother first and foremost, but must also remember the teachers who went above and beyond when educating us on falling in love with a book. There are, quite literally, too many great teachers’ names to mention.
At THS, I have the opportunity to work with some of the finest teachers I have personally known not only in my teaching career but throughout my life in education.
Of course we enjoy educating young people every day. But those special moments like the one in that hallway sure do make me proud to be a small part of the greatest school in the world.
Michael Bird is a music teacher and disc jockey in Tallassee. His column appears here weekly.