Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teacher's blog shares passion, heartbreak

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.

And while I'm sharing good writing,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has posted a piece about International Baccalaureate life by East Meck student journalist Hannah Lieberman,  titled  "I think, therefore IB."   CMS spokeswoman Stacy Sneed said as far as she knows,  it's the first piece of student reporting posted on the district's site.  I think it's a great idea and hope to see more student work. 


Larry said...

As one on the same boat, different medical deck, I admire those who see life as a great tapestry being woven before our eyes.

All coming together to show who we really were, who we really loved, and what we really stood for.

My trip may or may not be longer than yours, but as a fellow traveler, we all can admire the view, and enjoy the good we hope we have done in the past.

Being able to say you have gotten more out of life than you ever put into it, is indeed the best source of comfort, as it makes you work even harder in these last few years. And that work is not even work anymore, it is just pleasure.

GypsyDRB said...

Sad news indeed. As part of her research to combat the illness, have her read up on a company called Neuralstem. They are advancing groundbreaking research in a treatment for ALS. There is a blog by a woman named April (Google alsexpress).

Best of luck

Anonymous said...

Larry, that's a great message, and a great reminder that all of us share the same human voyage. As someone who is frequently on the receiving end of your criticism, I can attest that you are persistent but not mean. Sometimes the internet makes it too easy to fire off snide messages and personal aspersions, without stopping to remember that all the educators and politicians and journalists and fellow commenters are real people. I suspect we'd all be nice to each other if we ran into each other in the grocery store. Here's to being passionate without being petty!

Anonymous said...

Your best post ever.
There's an eloquent heart there after all.

Larry said...

So my Best Friend, Mentor, Center of my Universe, and Lover of 39 years in June, says I have.

Yes I fooled Her that long.

But back to the battle, you are all wrong and I will do everything in my power to prove it.