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FROM THE EDITOR - Summer 2023

Summer 2023 Edition

In 1982, Sardis Elementary held approximately 90 children across kindergarten through 6th grade. Housed in an abandoned high school, it was the poorest school in Harrison County, with nearly 100% of the children receiving free or reduced lunch. Each teacher was assigned to two grades, and anything outside of the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) was handled by specialists sent from a nearby town once a week. Physical education was conducted in an adjacent barn or open field, and school buses could not navigate the mountain on which the school sat – so every child who attended had to traverse the steep and winding drive morning and afternoon, no matter the weather.

I was in the fifth grade, and for the prior two years I had been bused two days each week to Morgan Elementary, in the city of Clarksburg, for a special education program known to me and my teachers simply as “gifted”. At “gifted”, I studied architecture and mythology and practiced mindfulness and meditation. The days were varied and exciting, and traveling to the city by myself on a small school bus felt adventurous and special.

On one of my “Sardis” days that fall, my teacher announced to the class that we were to have a library. To the best of my recollection, our faculty had lobbied the education community in the area for more resources, and a book drive was made at several schools. To me, the prospect of having a library in the school where I still spent most of my time was beyond exciting. Our teacher had (from her perspective) some bad news, too: though we were receiving several hundred books and some modest supplies, there was no budget for a librarian. Our teachers, who were already stretched thin, would not be able to organize or maintain the collection. If it was to be a library, it was up to us.

My arm shot in the air immediately – the prospect of leading the project of setting up a card catalog, borrowing system, and dewey decimal files was thrilling. My teacher called on me, and I began my appeal for the position of lead librarian. Before the second sentence was out of my mouth, my classmate, Chris wailed, “Noooooo! Why you? You get to do everything. One of us should get to do it.”

For the first time in my life, I realized that my enthusiasm, ambition, and abilities might actually have been thwarting opportunities for my peers. I found myself in a conundrum: blast full speed ahead and do all that I could when I could or temper my interests and passions to keep the peace with kids around me. Of course my teacher navigated it skillfully; I don't recall exactly who was in charge – but I do distinctly remember the feeling of not wanting to miss the opportunity.

The theme of not wanting to miss an opportunity has remained a constant pattern in my life, and not always the most helpful. Sometimes it has looked like biting off much more than I can chew, letting people down unintentionally. It has also resulted in some pretty incredible experiences and relationships, so most days I am grateful for the dna.

As the dog days of summer descend upon us, here's to making the most of every moment as it comes – and never missing an opportunity...whether it is to learn or to teach, to change or to sustain, to adventure or to relish a bit of rest.

All my best,


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