Alumni Cris Cucerzan (Cohort 2014) wrote this poem for the young teacher, which he shared last week as part of the pre ceremony of Ako Mātātupu for our graduating Cohort 2016s.
Dear young teacher at the low-decile school:
I remember you at the front of the classroom
arms sailing wide, your heart a lighthouse.
The oceans piled kids onto your shore,
and together you built a ship, and steered into the wavering far.
You tended the embers in their fireplaces and used constellations to navigate,
and in time they learned to trust you,
so when you told them they could grab the horizon
even though it was a wavering line
they extended their arms, and held
like they were holding on to the billowing edge of the sea;
and when you told them to keep holding
they let go.
I remember the change in your face,
the way your eyes grew pools
as if they were listening to storms in the distance.
You looked at the sky a lot.
You looked at birds flying, shadows lazy on the ground.
You looked at these kids whose heads turned away
and you waited.
So precious is that pearl, their attention,
that it is for so long sought, yet so little gained.
Know this, young teacher. You are not the first arc,
and you will not be the last.
The kids will cross your bridge gently,
though some will trample despite your teaching their feet
to pay attention to the prints they leave.
They will walk on, past you,
and not necessarily to where you pointed them.
Poem by Cris Cucerzan - Cohort 2014