This poem opens my book, Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus.

I am the guardian of your 10-year-old self

I bear witness, child one second

teenager the next

developing a sense

of what is right

what is wrong

and all in between

pushing the boundaries of childhood

like water on the levees

intense daily interactions

reading, writing, thinking

talking, laughing, brooding

until poof ! you’re gone

like summer in Vermont

or a flock of birds overhead

flying fast out of sight

I squint to see the tiny dots disappear.

So when I see you in town

at the grocery store,

don’t think I’m odd

because I stop in my tracks


because while I’ve stayed

the same in the mirror

you’ve gone through a

swirling metamorphosis

when I wasn’t looking

you’ve danced, sung, played, changed

and done more than I’d ever known

or could teach you.

I’m looking for the relic

for the tiny piece

of your preadolescent

clumsy, shining self

searching the pictures in my mind,

head spinning.

So when you see me on the street

stop and say hello.

Tell me who you are now

and I will tell you

who you were


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