Normally sharing a well-written blog by a passionate teacher is a joyful task. Today's discovery comes with an overlay of sorrow.
I met Vivian Connell, a former Providence High teacher with strong views on the fate of the profession, at the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh in mid-February. I enjoyed her way with words, and we exchanged emails afterward.
If you read Jane Stancill's recent story, you know that about a month later Connell was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's syndrome. She's a few years younger than me, facing a relentless and fatal illness.
I was tempted to feel sorry for her. Then I read her blog, "finALS."
"Well, hello there, Death! I was not expecting you, yet, here you are," she writes of getting her March 12 diagnosis. She moves quickly on to her plans for the years she has left: "I want to join my fiery, righteously indignant, kick-ass colleagues in education blogging as we defend the essential civic institution of public education against an onslaught, a wrong-minded and dangerous take-over by private interests that threatens the nature of American democracy."
Not much hand-wringing there. I get the sense she'd much rather face a good argument than a dose of pity -- and someone who describes Diane Ravitch as her hero is likely to spark plenty of good arguments. You can read more about her path from teacher to lawyer back to teacher, as well as get her take on all that lies ahead for her. That include not just her illness, but her plans to take her students to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington.