Saturday, June 28, 2014

Eyes of Mr. Chung

Friday was the last day of school.  The play is finished.  Grades done.  I'm all packed up and ready to roll.  Just a couple of Taiwanese classes to proctor.  Turn in the exams and I'm out the door.
The last class of the day was Mr. Chung's.  He teaches Chinese history and is retiring at the end of the year.  A tall, angular faced, rather magnanimous older gentleman who strides through the hallways with hands folded behind his back without a care in the world.  I see him every day and we both nod and bow very solemnly and seriously in each other's directions as little ripples of recognition pass between us.
The thing is, Mr. Chung has the most serene looking face.  A quiet absolute confidence about him.  I noticed it immediately.  Austere eyebrows above the kindest eyes.  A pondering look that doesn't come naturally, one must earn it over years and years.  As if he'd spent half a lifetime whispering to students about right and wrong, about their hidden potential, about the greatness he sees in them.
Only a teacher can have those eyes, that stare directly into the souls of young people, leading them, correcting them, holding them accountable, inspiring them to be great.
Ten years ago I might have been happy about the last day of school.  I might have run through the hallways and thrown my folders full of paper into the air and danced in the raining confetti, played Alice Cooper and peeled out my tires and raced toward summer.  Now, I just sigh.

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