Many years ago
I made a move to teach
At a high school.
After elementary school and middle school,
I figured I had seen just about everything.
Besides the normal school stuff,
I got to learn a whole new faculty.
One man was a longtime teacher
Who was nearing retirement.
I only knew him in passing, but he was always around.
He ran the hallways during his planning.
His choppy steps were quiet
And he always listened to something
Loud enough on his headphones
To bypass his downgraded hearing ability.
After he retired,
He stuck around.
Using his guile and experience
From teaching the hardest of students
To manage the toughest of all teaching jobs, the substitute.
And he ran.
After a quick Clark Kent change,
He was out of his bow tie
Making his way around the building
With a pace perfect
For memorizing his lines in the script he carried.
I never knew he was an actor,
But he was great,
Never letting on that he had cancer,
Never suggesting that he could not beat it.
His anger seemed manageable as he reasoned with his struggle.
Yet, he remained upbeat
Running as much as possible,
Reading during quiet moments between classes,
Standing through the rigors of standardized testing,
Acting as if he was on the mend.
We last spoke about two weeks ago.
He did some quiet judging of education,
How we are missing the importance of what we are
By focusing so much time on testing
For he had been a man of relationships, no matter how difficult the student.
Word came today that Kirk passed away.
Cancer took a good man away from us all too soon.
He lived with a dignity and honesty
Few will ever approach.
So long, Mr. Fetters…