Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Les Teachers? Misérables Idea!

Hello readers!

It has been a while since I last posted. This is for a few reasons. One, I really have been busy looking for jobs. It takes a lot of work to get one's portfolio together and I am regularly checking to see if there are an new openings to apply for. Two, I have to be careful about what I write. While I am bitter about my situation of being laid off, I don't want to seem like a complainer, or a screamer. I am, after all, trying to find a new home and don't want anything to turn off a prospective employer.

Lastly, I am still looking for stories from others to post. This blog was never intended to be about me. I actually was inspired by the Why We Write blog that was started during the writers strike a few years back. A few days back I spoke with a writer from the NEA, so perhaps my coverage will invite some more stories. I recently received an email from a reader sharing her story, but the language she uses is a bit colorful. Some of my students follow this blog, so I may not be posting that link.

Anyways... My inspiration for this posting came to me over the weekend. I went to Glenbard North High School's performance of "Les Misérables". It was phenomenal. They performed in front of a huge sold out auditorium (I'm told all three of their performances sold out). To be honest, I was a tad leery about going. I've seen Les Mis twice, and while I thoroughly enjoy the musical, I thought that it was a pretty ambitious production to take on at the high school level.

These kids nailed it. Their leads had the audience in their hands. Not only could they sing brilliantly, they acted. I really haven't seen high school actors with that much nuance before. I had forgotten how much raw emotion is in this story, but I had no problem feeling the story that they told. There are so many tragic moments followed by moments of pure joy, and this cast took their audience with them for the ride.


Then I started thinking.

This is what education is about. These students experienced something that they will not forget for the rest of their lives. Sure, most of them will not become actors or actresses, but perhaps many of them will continue in arts related careers. Perhaps some kids in the crew will enter the trades, maybe a member of the chorus will work as a marketing director for a performing arts center, maybe a member of the orchestra will someday be a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and maybe the senior who played Jean Valjean will be actually some day be Jean ValJean (believe me, this kid will have the chops).

And lets not forget the audience. In my estimation some 2000 people watched this play (I have no actual idea how many seats they have, so my number could be high--though I suspect I guessed low). The audience was blessed with this performance. It is things like this that strengthen our communities.

In the program, this quote was towards the end.
"The arts reaffirm our humanity. They are the glue that holds society together. While improvements in the three Rs may enable us to compete more efficiently, economically. and technologically, it does not feed the human spirit. The most vital stages in the history of any society are marked by a flourishing of the arts. And when most material goods have turned to dust it is the arts that remain as a testimony to dreams and passions of the past." -Harold M Williams


And realize this: None of this would have happened without great educators. It took a whole lot of effort by a lot of people to put that play together, and they should all be proud. I am sad to say that the district I am leaving cut the elementary music program in half. I'm not suggesting the cuts should have been elsewhere--this is just a fact.

Education is worth it. Paying your taxes to better your community is worth it. Keeping good, hardworking, dedicated teachers is worth it. Supporting the arts is worth it. Please spread the word, and support legislation that pays the bills for education.