“Give It the Old College Try”

In which Carrie remembers her grandfather’s witicisms while publishing her first graded homework assignment of the term for the sake of staking out the place and earning an ESOL endorsement…

“Most of us will live heroic lives on a small scale…be kind to each other, honor those who came before you and respect those who will come after you.”
-John Green, commenting on the release of The Fault in Our Stars during the tour-de nerdfighting, January 2012, Bagdad Theatre, Portland, Oregon

It took the recent deaths of two people I loved to finally spur me into action.  I have been thinking of returning to school for some time and it is not without some symbolism that I attend my third Oregon University, OSU, which happened to also be my late grandfather’s home team.   He gave me a small gift of money with the requirement that I use it for “a meaningful, long-lasting purpose to remember him by.”  Or so says my grandmother, who along with him, was also a teacher.

Times are different for teachers now than they were back then.  It has been over three years since I finished my M.A.T. program at Southern Oregon University with endorsements to teach middle school multiple subjects and high school language arts.  Language everything has been a long-term hobby for I-don’t-know-how-long, and I’ve received the generous gifts of people in my life who inspire the continuation of its study in my life.  One person was my professor Wilkins-O’Riley Zinn (W-OZ) who died this August unexpectedly.  She encouraged my personal writing goals and to teach students with kindness, creativity, and fun.

I remember these two people who inspired a joy of life, a lot of therapeutic humor, and the desire to make the world a better place.  The small place I live now is east of the Cascades, in central Oregon.  I substitute teach here, and often have the pleasure of seeing my old teachers at the high school I attended.  I consider John Green’s quote with excitement when I think of the new generation of scholars and world-makers whom I will encounter in the coming months.  I believe I will approach them, humbly and happily, as both learner and teacher.  I imagine that I will empathize with the struggles they overcome at their level of study and commiserate with them while I grinningly express my own educational woes (deadlines, computer glitches) and wonders (inspiration, curiosity).

There is so much I wish to do for our children and our world, and knowing I don’t have to do it all by myself is a relief.  I believe I can be heroic and that my heroic acts are not mine individually…I’m made up of small and large parts of the diverse communities I call mine,  who, over the years, and even just this moment, shape my decisions and actions.  I am a fan of the vlogbrothers, of which John Green represents half, and their edutaining videos bolstered by the catch phrase “decrease worldsuck, increase awesome” to indicate a movement I am already part of through my love of language and communication.

“It’s a mad mission but I got the ambition. It’s a mad mission, sign me up.”

Patty Griffin, “Mad Mission”


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