Today, I guess, is my commencement. Not my graduation, but the beginning of a sabbatical, a year without teaching, a year for study.
Funny, the word commencement. And the word graduate. Kids finish four years and think they are done. But commencement does not mean ending. It means the start (of something else). And to graduate is to measure, to put a mark on to say how high you’ve just reached. The marks on the side of a measuring cup are graduations. So are the pencil scratches in the hallway, marking each child’s height… So that year end ceremony? We’re are sending the kids out to do their next thing, with a mark on them, saying how high they’ve reached so far…
Anyway, today is my commencement. I will not work for the next fourteen months, while I study mathematics (Real Analysis and Algebra at the CUNY Graduate Center, if all works out right).
Yesterday and the day before I wrapped up some pieces, so that I could move forward. My school hired a one year leave replacement. (Principal showed me the name of the guy he was interviewing and ended up hiring – it was a former student of mine. Nice). I set up my delegate and a member of my consultation committee to share my chapter leader duties in my absence, and Wednesday they began carrying out duties without me (I will be available to answer questions). I cleared a bunch of junk out of the room where I’ve been teaching (for ten years…) The day before I ended my commitment at my co-op (after four years). The way has been cleared for a good beginning.
Yesterday, as it wrapped up, I also got a chance to look back. Alumni began arriving around 11, and trickled through all afternoon. I helped a kid line up an internship. Talked to others about the first year away at school. Discussed courses. Living in strange cities. New friends. And then our last faculty meeting. There was cake for three of us – one wedding, one retirement, one sabbatical. I’d never seen a sabbatical cake before, and didn’t realize I was part of it!
And then the dinner celebration: Dosas and uthappams in Jackson Heights with two dear friends.
So today something new commences. I’m preparing for classes, and for a different pace to life. I have a series of New Years quality resolutions. I’ll get working on them soon. There may be travel plans, but nothing beyond Indiana so far, there will be time. The actual school stuff – books, registration, studying in advance – that will come, but not quite yet. No, today a new feeling commences, and it is wonderful.