"Not another spelling bee!"
Yet some mantras didn’t work even back then.
Scars needed time to heal, 
But not in that room.

Sam always had to sit down first.
It broke my heart!
Yet, was it not through that horrible game that 
I first experienced compassion?

Our teacher praised the “best and the brightest” and
I began to look for the giftedness of the other.
Her insistence on conformity 
Planted a seed for
A primal need: diversity.

She forced us to memorize. 
I felt the fear in Rhonda’s eyes,
And someone else’s happiness 
Became more important than my own!
My teacher taught me that! 

She lectured, and my mind wandered.
It has never stopped wandering and wondering.
She avoided Joe, earth under nails, 
Her faith based on ridicule and the slap of a hand. 

Again and again she embarrassed Marie
And even the classroom crucifix cried. 
Yet in those tears we grew in respect for each other.
She made us compete. 
It ripped us apart.
And a small voice said, “We are one”!

She taught us to fear. “May I teach only love?”
She lifted the lofty, yet I think we’re born knowing,
That each new life is divine revelation.

She established a hierarchy, which I had to tear down.
I must still tear it down.

Teacher cried one day
And I knew I could judge no one.
It was a formative year, one I’d never forget. 
But wasn’t it grand (in an odd sort of way)
And weren’t they grand? Sam and Rhonda and Joe and Marie!
Our struggles have shaped us as much as our joys
And aren’t we all teachers? 
Aren’t we all?

Jody Walker