In November, the Perry County Council of the Arts honored me by awarding me the Educator of the Year Award for 2017. I felt incredibly humbled by this, and needed to be sure I gave credit where it was due in my acceptance speech:
You’re giving me an honor when really
it’s the students who deserve credit, and I know
that sounds cliche but cliches are just truths
we say so often we forget to feel them
until we are made to
and, you see, if it weren’t for
the young souls who made you feel,
who unstitched themselves in front of you,
who pulled out each bone until they could break into words,
if it wasn’t for these artists that turned clavicles into caesuras
and consonants into caverns, if they hadn’t sung me
a muse when I was merely a lucky journal page
open and ready to hear them, you wouldn’t
have my name sprawled across an award
because, you see, any teacher worth that title
knows there is no award; there is discovery.
there is patience and light and poetry
in every cell, in every soul, if you wait long enough
for it to find its way between pores and posturing,
around preconceived notions and self-fulfilling prophecies.
I am spun of stories students speak from
pencil tips and computer screens, and I am reminded of how
like books, our spines can crack from the weight of
everything we carry inside and I am so thankful
you recognize the art in how my students stay whole
despite the untethering of their bindings, how their
saving grace is our solace. you are honoring me when
all I’ve done is coax them to scream syllables from their skeletons
and tear pages from their tongues perhaps with tears but
never with apologies, when all I’ve done is expose that
behind the concrete blocks and plastic desks that
make up a classroom, beyond the survey data and
standardized test results, inside of those ID numbers
there are infinite beings begging to breathe.
and I laid literature in their lungs.
I tucked possibility around their teeth.
but they--they came alive and rattled their vocal chords raw
until you heard them roaring and thanked me for it
and all I can say in return is
there is no need to thank me for what already lived in them.
Lynne Reeder is a mother, teacher, and lifelong reader. She's been penning poems and stories since she first learned to spell words. Her works appear in many online journals and other publications, and she received the title of Poet Laureate for hometown in 2016. She spends her time squeezing in writing drafts of her works around wrangling her two daughters and impulsive pitbull. She's been lucky enough to find love early, marrying her high school sweetheart Brandon, with whom she has been for over half of her life. She loves all kinds of tea, witnessing the moment a student discovers a new talent, and recognizing the infinite in the everyday. She hopes you enjoy her words as much as she thrives on creating them.