Amidst the craziness of graduation weekend, several of my undergrads, now graduates, asked me to give a toast at their celebratory gathering. I was both flattered and excited to honor them thusly:
I have a difficult time reading the newspaper yet find myself sipping coffee every morning, pouring over the headlines in the New York Times. More often than not, there is some inflammatory headline about the decline of America’s schools, the sloth of the teachers who fill them, and the ludicrous idea that just anyone can teach. My blood boils for a moment until I think about the people in this room. You, the TAL class of 2011, remind me that there are good, hardworking educators with fresh ideas, seemingly unlimited energy, and a deep-seated desire to help children live lives of their own choosing and I find myself suddenly calm. Over the course of the last two years, I have been fortunate enough to teach you, learn with you, and watch you grow into formidable educators. I am in awe of your resolve, of your diligence, and believe, whole-heartedly, of your potential. You will do brilliant things, just as you have done brilliant things over the course of your undergraduate career. When you do brilliant things, you enable the students in your classroom to do brilliant things. We say that children are the future; I propose that you, my friends, are the future and I can’t wait until the New York Times gets wind of the good you will do. So let’s raise a glass and toast to the TAL class of 2011 – to the hard work you have done and the harder work you will do. There is no one more equipped, more ready to handle it than you.
We're going to avoid the fact that I actually forgot to toast anyone, but I like to think my words were somewhat pretty.