When we’re in the thick of it, sometimes we take the good for granted. There are days we grumble that it’s hard to find a spot to park. I tend to be a fast walker, known to get annoyed at slow moving clumps of socializing students clogging the hall. I might have skirted or shirked or squirmed around some face to face whining over a grade toward the end of the term. Sometimes, frankly, the customer is not always right. It’s just so busy with the workings of the college that it’s all trees and no forest. When our halls are teeming with students and every last one of us is bustling about, frenetically, it’s easy to overlook the obvious. Now that the buildings are not reverberating with higher learning, I’m rediscovering so very much. I’m seeing this place anew.
One of our deans said it best. Returning from industry with fresh eyes, he stated that this work we do is not a job–it’s a calling.
Now, over the holiday when faculty and students are once-removed from the college, another population that’s still here is coming into light. All of the support people are diligently working away like elves before Christmas. We’re making lists and checking them twice. We’re shampooing classrooms and ensuring enrollments. All of us are involved in this great enterprise of education, and all of us (in my opinion) are essential personnel.
However, in the immortal words of the hair band, Cinderella, we often “Don’t know what you got, ’til it’s gone.”
I think when everyone’s here, then a lot of it melds into this broad landscape of learning. Yet, when so many are missing, when the halls and classrooms and parking lots are empty, there’s something of a chill in the air. It seems downright preternatural, like an empty mall.
I miss my teaching colleagues and I eagerly anticipate the days the students are all milling around again. I look forward to the teachable moments, in and out of the classroom. I am very pleased to be part of this mission, and I am honored to work with hundreds of others who are also engaged in this calling.