Eighteen years ago – four days before school started — Prof. Denny Shramek called me: “Beeull, howdya lak to teach a co-arse in wrat-in?” I accepted his offer, and my life changed forever. Usually, the end of a school year means wishing people well as they head off on new adventures. But, this year, I head off on a new adventure of my own. Before we embark on new paths, I wanted to catch your attention one last time.
I’ve been at this teacher business for a long time — 48 years counting middle school, high school, and college. This fall will be the first time since I was 5 years old that I will not be on one side of the desk or the other. Something that is both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way. One of those things is that Castleton will live on in the people who proudly wear 343 green, no matter what name they slap on banners or letterheads or other VTSU swag.
Many of you have passed through at least one class with me. A few of you even double-dipped. I have been afforded the rare privilege of sharing in your growth into the confident and poised young people you are today. There have been challenges, and you have faced them all with dignity and courage. You have learned something about yourseves at every turn, and I have witnessed extraordinary transformations. I am very proud of all of you.
You have given me two wonderful gifts – your friendship and your trust. These I will treasure always. I can say without hesitation that Castleton in particular, and the world in general, are better places because of you. I am honored to call you my friends.
It is my custom to end my classes with a poem. With all we have gone through over the past couple of years, I struggled to find just the right one as we both head off to new adventures. The Mary Ellen Carter was a merchant ship that sank in a pouring, driving rain. The owners didn’t care because insurance would cover the loss. But, the people who did the work on this ship did not want her name to be lost to the knowledge of men, so they worked tirelessly to raise her from the ocean floor. I’ll leave you with the final verse:
“And you to whom adversity has dealt a final blow.
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go.
Turn to and put out all the strength of arm and heart and brain,
And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.
Rise again! Rise again!
Though your heart it be broken and life about to end.
No matter what you’ve lost be it a school, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter — RISE AGAIN! “
Thank you so much for your kind attention. DO NOT MAKE ME COME OUT OF RETIREMENT!