A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

1 to 50: Embracing, yard work, cooking and other chaos-related activities

In my quest to 50, we have hit T-minus and one day. Maggie is putting together a party for me and I am looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. On Saturday I'm getting together with my twin brother for dinner in KC.

In the preparations for the weekend, I have had one mantra, which, conveniently, is today's thought:

Embrace the chaos.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am a contradiction in so many ways. One of those ways in in regards to my flexibility. I have the reputation to the cursory observer of being pretty laid back. And in many situations, I am. However, there is a streak of control freak and perfectionaist lurking behind that laid back façade.

Two stories:

In college, a professor cornered me in the hallway and told me to hand over the paper I had written, but not turned in for a class. I stammered that I knew it was due today, but I wasn't completely happy with it blah blah blah. She snatched it out of my hand, gave it to the professor it was actually for, smiled and walked away. The grade for that paper was an A. Dr. Spangler pointed out that I was willing to take a B for an A paper in order to make it 'better'. That's nutty.

Last year I tried to decline a chance to speak at Ford's Theater stage. I talked about it in Oratory and the Old Man. I rationalized that this opportunity was for the students and that I blah blah blah. The reality was that I was terrified that I couldn't get the speech perfect and so was willing to turn down what might be a once in a life time opportunity. Luckily, I was told to put my big boy pants on and do it. I am so glad I did.

That experience got me to thinking through the course of the last year. There are some things which I control which serve me well. I like an orderly classroom so that I can focus on students. It allows me to keep track of four classes and dozens of projects.

Perfectionism and control are a problem when they stop you from doing something you want to do, should do, need to do... It is also a problem when it makes you a jackass to those around you.

What I think the backyard should look like--nevermind that we don't have that skyline, those chairs or a firepit which looks like a volcano erupting.

What I think the backyard looks like. Apparently, in my brain, we are the Bumpas Family from A Christmas Story.

This is the firepit three of my kids created for me. It may not have the skyline but it ain't Bumpas either. Yes, David Shaw, those are my Hobbit feet.
Getting things ready for the party has been an exercise in chaos. There is no way we can get all of the projects done we want to get done before people start arriving tomorrow. Time. Manpower. Money. All sorts of reasons. In the middle of all of it, the boys and I committed to helping a church member who desperately needs help to move. What was going to be a couple hours will span about eight hours over a couple days. Hopefully my sons see me caring for people who need caring for more than my going all Martha Stewart over a backyard. Some days I get it right. Sometimes I muck it up. I suppose that is the chaos I make those around me live in.

So I work in baby steps...those steps have been in the back yard and the kitchen.

I hate to cook. It might be the thing I like the least. Clearly I have no problem shoving food in my pie hole. Its the chaos of cooking with someone else. Maggie is an excellent, albeit messy, cook. Her mantra of 'everything will get cleaned in the end' versus my 'clean as a you go'. She loves to cook, is better at it than me and would like for me to be there with her. A few years ago I finally told her that I hated to cook and she has given me a free pass since. Over the past few months I have forced myself in the kitchen more. Maggie enjoys cooking and likes me in there so I need to put my big boy pants on and get in there.

My first recipe we made together this year is here and in the hyperlink below. Not a hugely fancy dish, but remember... baby steps. One of my goals this summer is to make my own pasta for this dish. In my brain, flour, dough rising and a pasta machine won't be messy...we'll see...

Tortellini with Garlic Sage Butter Sauce
Tortellini with garlic sage butter sauce (from Food and Wine Magazine)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2 to 50: trust and ask questions and obey

All of these cartoons come from Bizarro's website. I want to take this artist to coffee and ask him how he works. Brilliant. 

I have a feeling I'm gonna piss some folks off with this one. If you are one of those folks...sorry, but may I ask you nicely to get over it.
Here is my thought for today:

Believe in something, but always ask questions of it.

The people who I see are the happiest and most productive believe in something. I am not talking about just religious beliefs, although those are central to who I am as a person. What is it, outside of your family, that you are passionate about? What is it that makes you willing to take a stand or move outside your comfort zone? I'm excluding family because most of us are hard-wired to be passionate about them. If you are not, then this isn't the blog post to explore that. Its not about money, either. Money is money and, again, if that is what makes you passionate, this is not the blog post for you either.

For some of us, our faith is what makes us passionate. Others its the environment or some other social issue. There are any number of choices--my one caveat is that that passion has to make the world a better place. Safer. More reverent. More sustainable. More informed. More...you get my point, right?

My point is, those beliefs connect us to the world beyond ourselves and our family. Those connections to ourselves and family are important, but the connection to the 'other' reminds us that self and clan can take us to some dark, selfish places when we don't think of the world around us. And that world around us needs all of us.

Now, some of my evangelical friends are pissed that I have lumped the Christian faith in with global warming and music education. Surely, your faith gets higher billing that social issues, they say.

And some of my more progressive friends are pissed that I let religion in at all. Religion is the root of all evil, they say.

At this point I am going to ask all concerned to follow the motto: "I don't have to agree, but I do have to respect." Please listen before you try to flame me to the stone age.

To answer my friends, I'm gonna go backwards.

Number one, religion is humanity trying to put its brain around a God who transcends our brains. Man, in the name of God, has done some really shitty things...the Crusades, colonialism, slavery. Unfortunately, there are more every generation adding to that list. That isn't about following Christ. That reflects more on man than God. God has raised up disciples, not automatons. Disciples often go off script and, in a desire to please God or themselves, do damage. It's like blaming God for what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. That was man on just about every level. We can ask where God was during the hurricane and the aftermath, but expecting God to fix everything with his 'magic do over' wand seriously misses the point. I saw God in the legions of people who drove minutes or hours to Lower Ninth Ward and waded into the waters to help the 'least of' their sisters and brothers.

Secondly, Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on making the world a better place and I there are times I think I see God more in the secular than the sacred.  Just sayin'.

I do believe John 14:6 and the decisions I make are centered around what I believe God is calling me to do, to say and to think. I will have a conversation about my faith and the truths I believe with anyone who wants to have one. However, I know God uses creation to tell his story (Luke 19:40). God used wise men from another land to greet the Messiah (Matthew 2:1-12). [BTW-we can argue 'heathen magi' or god-fearing magi', but God used out-of-towners who didn't look or act like us'-which is my point.] Most importantly, Jesus listened to others based on where they were and then challenged them to be better (an adulterer: John 8:1-8, an outsider with mental illness/demons Mark 5:1-20, a Roman citizen: Acts 16:25-40, and a Jew: Acts 9:1-19.).

Belief  and action is one half of the equation, the other half is to ask questions. I'm gonna invoke God here (my agnostic and atheistic friends--adjust as needed). God commands us to do stuff but faithfulness is not robotic. One of my favorite books of the bible is 1 John. One of my favorite verses is 1 John 4:1-3. Test every spirit. Sometimes what appears to be a text message from God is not. If you believe it to be from God then you need to do it. God gave us a brain and intended for us to use it. I often feel God more closely in my questions that anywhere else. There is something encouraging in knowing that the God who created the universe is patient enough to let me wrestle with his call and then rejoin him when I catch up.

In the non-secular world, organizations and institutions need truth-tellers as well. People to ask hard questions. History is riddled with once necessary and effective organizations which failed its adherents. My general rule of thumb is, when an organization or group stops asking questions of itself, its time for me to graciously make my way out of it.

God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.--Soren Kierkegaard

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and

religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed

from deep nonsense. --Carl Sagan

3 to 50: On shutting your pie hole...

Today's idea is one that I have not mastered...not by a long shot...not even close.

I have referenced the Quaker phrase which will be this thought before in this blog post. The thought for today is:

Don't speak unless you can improve upon the silence.

I have an almost pathological need to explain myself. I think part of that is useful in the classroom and at home and at church, but part of it makes for an annoyingly long lecture on the part of the listener.

I have a dear friend who only allows me to tell a story in six sentences; since this is my sixth sentence I will stop talking (or typing as it were).

I haven't seen this movie yet but I am intrigued by what the trailer suggests.

Monday, May 26, 2014

4 to 50:Talk to Your Grandparents (part two--peace)

My grandmother (second to the left) with her siblings and the Great-Great Grands

I hadn't planned on two posts, but I don't think I can do one without the other. Today is Memorial Day and the idea is remember, remember?

My son's are still at Maple Grove and my wife and sister-in-law are still in Pratt, America.

But I'm not done. I have a friend whose area of expertise as a historian is genocide. He has studied the Holocaust and Rwanda and Darfur and ... (unfortunately there are too many 'ands' here). Its those 'ands' which are in my head.

What I am going to say next is going to put me on someone's list somewhere, and if it does, so be it. I would like to point out that I love my country and had the balls to serve it. I continue to serve it by entering a field of battle each day with a dozen 14-year olds; showing that the Rock 'em-Sock 'em Robots that is American History and Civics is messy but important. That being citizens can be a full-contact sport and you need to make sure you know how to play the game in order to be most effective.

Here goes:

National Pride has a shadow side that causes us to do horrific things in the name of country. Its easy to point to Africa and Europe and Asia and point to the ills of those regimes, past and present. But we need to remember our history is a complicated one as well. Native Americans. Slaves. The treatment of the Chinese and Japanese, not to mention other immigrant classes. Please note that I my goal is not to be a nationalistic buzz-kill. I think nationalism at its core asks us to look beyond our self-interest to our neighbor. I think it gives us leaders who become public servants over politicians. So I have an idea.

A recipe for National Pride: equal parts War and Peace...that's it. I am proud to have served my country and I thank God for those women and men who have and continue to serve. However, that is only have of the thought for today:


Part of remembering is remembering the peace part of that story and so here is my challenge for you this Memorial Day. Talk to a grandparent. Talk to a neighbor. Talk to each other. Ask those whose lives have been longer about the life before social media. Ask them about clothes lines. Ask them about train rides. Ask them about Benny Goodman. Ask them about ... You get the idea.

My Great Grandmother, her maiden name was Younger and was a distant cousin to Jesse James. There have been several discussions with my sons about whether having an infamous relative is a good thing or not. We are also supposed to be descendants of William Penn, but I will tell you that people are often more impressed at Jesse James and the Younger Brothers over William Penn--usually its, 'he's Quaker Oats guy, right?' Just sayin'.

My Great-Grandfather. When my grandmother would talk about him, it was clear she was a Daddy's Girl. Its hard to imagine the grandmother who had weathered the Depression, two marriages and raised almost a half dozen kids on her own that way, but I loved to hear that story.

4 to 50:Talk to your grandparents (part one, war)

Today is Memorial Day.
My wife and sister-in-law are heading to Pratt, Kansas to place flowers on headstones and my sons are serving as greeters at Maple Grove Cemetery here in Wichita. As a military kid and veteran myself, this day is one of pride and reflection.
Today's thought is simple:
I can't express my thoughts better than Lincoln did more than 151 years ago, so I won't even try. I will let his words, and my camera speak for themselves. The images are from Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg National Cemetery, Maple Grove Cemetery (Wichita, KS) and monuments and memorials from Washington DC.
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."


Sunday, May 25, 2014

5 to 50: What do a light bulb, a fifteen year old and Easter lillies have in common?

This is one of my favorite photographs from National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones
Today's thought comes from the mind of my newly minted 15-year old, Max. Today is his birthday and we were chatting after church about the blog and he suggested this life lesson:

There is always a solution...

This wasn't the one I had been thinking about, but it is the one I can't stop thinking about.

The first reason involves wrong answers. Students know that I love the National Treasure series. One of my favorite quotes is discussed in this post from the beginning of this blog experiment. Here is another:

What? You don't speak Italian? Well, okay. As they look for ways to get their hands on the Declaration of Independence, Riley Poole tells Ben Gates what the challenges are and suggests it might be impossible. Gates tells Poole of the story of Thomas Edison and his two thousand attempts to figure out how to make the carbonized cotton filament in the incandescent light bulb work. Edison challenged a detractor that he hadn't failed, but that he came up "2000 ways not to make a light bulb." All he needed was one way to work. And he did. (So did the folks in National Treasure, but that was a movie, not real life--in case you weren't sure.)

Sometimes I give up too easy. Sometimes I let my kids and students as well. In one of my student's speeches this year, he said that 'our parents and teachers love us and don't want us to see us hurt'. As a result, we swoop in and give them the answer, a solution, a way out. Unfortunately, what we don't do if force them to come up with the solution on their own. I need to be better at letting my charges marinate in a situation --give them encouragement and time to get there on their own.

The second reason I can't get this idea out of my mind revolves around settling for good enough. I remembered a video I had seen from a decade ago about 'right' answers. I remembered the speaker was a National Geographic photographer and the Interwebs did the rest. This isn't the series I remember, but its the same basic talk with the exact pictures so, watch and think on, then come back...

...welcome back.
I love the idea of different right answers. As a history teacher, it would be easy for me to devise a test where everything is concrete. One answer to fit the question. Unfortunately, real life doesn't come with questions that usually have one answer. There is a great line from The American President where he challenges the idea what looking 'presidential' means. He says that there are very few days as the president where the answer is completely black and white and those days usually involve body bags.
Life is a series of gray answers. That isn't good or bad; it just is. One of my goals as a teacher is to prepare my students for that reality. Actually, my goal is to get them to embrace the gray...
...what is the best right answer, friends?
Max, thanks for reminding to embrace the gray ... I love you and Hippo Birdie Two Ewes...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

6 to 50: Get gold stars for 'plays well with others'...

How many of you remember paper report cards?

Southside first grade report card
Stolen from the interwebs...don't judge!

Stolen off the interwebs...you think I would show you mine from first grade!?

We do grading electronically nowadays, but I remember the grade card. Take it home. Get it signed. Spend an indeterminate time grounded so you could 'reflect' on the error of your ways and how to improve. Six to nine weeks later, rinse and repeat.
Today, we write comments and have a mandatory parent-teacher conference in the fall, but there are students for whom I want to institute paper grade cards. Not the kids you think. We spend a lot of time 'remediating'...struggling students need help and we give it. We can argue methods and effectiveness, but most students who struggle academically or socially are met with a plan by the time we hit conferences.
Its the other kids I want to send grade cards home to...the kids who play well in the sandbox or work harder for a B or C than some of my A students do on their papers/projects/homework. I do a mediocre job catching kids doing something right and telling them thank you and over the summer, I am putting a plan in place to fix that for next year.
What is we gave citizenship grades to adults? Here is the sixth thought prior to my countdown to 50:
Don't be an a**, think about the others around you before you ...
Case in point...movie theaters. We went to X-Men last night at the late show and the people behind us talked during the movie. Mostly they talked to each other about the movie and what was happening. At one point, they spoke a critical piece of dialogue right before the actor did. It was irritating. I looked behind me twice during the movie. You know, the unspoken signal that your actions are affecting other people. Think of it as a Canadian 'Shut up', if you will:
It worked until the climax of the movie when they couldn't hold back anymore. By then you do the social shaming math and decide it isn't work the drama to say anything for the last ten minutes of the movie.
They would not have gotten a gold star for 'plays well with other'.
I work with kids who live in the own personal fable. It is all about them and all others are secondary players in their epic Shakespearian masterwork. But they are 14 and part of my job is to help them grow out of it. I spend a lot of time throughout the year talking about John Locke and Social Contract Theory. Civics is all about 'plays well with others'.
I would argue that many of our institutions would get middling marks for 'plays well with others', but that is another blog post.
Self-interest has always been a part of our DNA-and that is alright. To quote another Marvel movie:
Pepper Potts: Is this about the Avengers? Which I know nothing about.
Tony Stark: The Avengers initiative was scrapped, I thought. And I didn't even qualify.
Pepper Potts: I didn't know that either.
Tony Stark: Apparently I'm volatile, self-obsessed, and don't play well with others.
Pepper Potts: That I did know.
But self-sacrifice for the benefit of others has always been a part of that DNA as well.
Have a great Saturday!

Friday, May 23, 2014

7 to 50: Surround yourself with 'unwitting mentors'

Good morning...

For the next week I am hijacking my own blog.

In one week I will hit one of those milestone years. I am not a birthday person. I don't remember others very well and I don't get too palathered over mine. Yes, Maggie, last year I got palathered, but that was more the iPad than the birthday.

I am reading a interesting book The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared. BTW-I would recommend the book, I am about a third through and it is a charming read. Apparently they've made a movie of the book in Sweden which should be released in the US soon. The trailer is below:

The book has had me thinking the past few days about turning half a hundred. What advice would I give at the halfway mark. So, for the next seven days, I'm playing with ideas. The first one:

You shouldn't be the "smartest", "kindest", "most athletic", "most talented" (insert whatever adjectival whatever here) in the room.

I like to find people who are better than me at something and figure out what I can learn from them.
For example:
  • A young man who is just starting his career in music has been working with me to be a better singer. He is half my age and he is the teacher and I am the pupil.
  • There are history teachers I travel with and collaborate with who unwittingly mentor me to be better at my craft.
  • There are countless people who have made me a stronger person of faith by their presence, example, questions and challenges. My first mentors, Bob and Rebecca, challenged me to seek those sorts of people out.
It relates to my work with youth as well. In a middle school classroom, I may be the most knowledgeable, but I can promise you I am not the smartest. I work with some gifted kids and there will be a time when their knowledge and abilities will exceed mine. And that is a good thing. That is what is supposed to happen.
You can only do that if you are confident in your own abilities. I am a talented singer--but I want to get better, even if the only people who hear are the people in my choir and the church on a couple Sundays a year. (I could get all Kierkegaardian and talk about God as the audience, but we'll save that blog for another day, okay?) I am a good teacher, but I would be a fool not to glean as much from other great teachers. I am also confident in my faith, but in listening and reflecting humbly on whether God is using that person to speak words He needs me to hear, I am strengthening my it. (Sorry, got a little Kierkegaardian again. My apologies.)

You also need to humble yourself. I don't care how old you are, there is more to learn. There is more growth available. There is a great song that refers to stones in a river being washed and honed so that when God picks them up God will: /notice that I am /just a little smother in your hand." My job isn't to be perfect, just a little smoother.

Some of my best experiences have come when humility and confidence align. Sometimes my job is to just get out the way.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

“What day is it?" "It's today," squeeked Piglet. "My favorite day," said Pooh.

The last time in a suit and tie for three months!

I always warn kids not to wish for some future thing too much. It's fine to look forward and its fine to look back, but it should never get in the way of the now. It was a lesson taught to me by so many coaches, mentors, teachers and parental-types in my life and I am so grateful.
Today was the last honors assembly of the year. Tears and laughter and hugs and high fives. The frustrations and dramas of the year are put aside, even if only for a moment, and we come together to send off our young women and men. This last week is a week of moments. We take the eighth grade to a day-long adventure at a YMCA camp in the Flint Hills on Monday. On Tuesday is the Dodgeball Tournament and Talent Show (not at the same time, but ... hmmm). We change locker combinations and start putting awards and medals in the envelopes they get at the end of the assembly. It is an exhausting gauntlet-so out of the schedule we maintained for nine months-but so worth it.
I am looking forward to the summer. More time to write and read. Time with family and those grands! I have some ideas I want to play with for next year. I love the break, but truth be told...I start getting excited to be back in the classroom in mid-July. Not ready for grading and meetings, but...to work with my young charges...yeah, mid-July.
For my teacher friends who still have a few weeks of school...I hope you enjoy your last few moments with this set of students!
For those of us who have said goodbye to the last kiddo and all that is left is preparing the classroom for a summer without students...enjoy that too.
I know I will.
Only a few times each year is the grading bin empty...it is today!

I love seeing that sign. it means I can read a book and play with a grand without feeling guilty!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no orators"

declaration address and dream note--Ford's Theater asked me to write a post for their blog on my experience as a National Oratory Fellow. I asked if their post could be a post on my blog and they said yes... The images and some of the hyperlinks are mine, not theirs.

Charlie Marie McIntire

Editor’s note: Dave McIntire, a middle school teacher at The Independent School in Wichita, Kansas, is a 2013-2014 Ford’s Theatre National Oratory Fellow. Here, he reflects on his experience with the program and the May 2014 National Oratory Retreat and Performance.

I became a grandfather about the same time my students performed on the Ford’s Theatre stage on May 5, 2014. This isn’t my first grandchild, so no Father’s Little Dividend moments happened at the retreat. However, the convergence of these two events has me thinking about how planning for a baby’s arrival and preparing my students for a weekend in Washington, have surprising similarities.

Both events are a long time in coming. It hasn’t escaped my attention that both processes take about nine months. My class started focusing on oratory in September. We played with Podium Points, wrestled with sonnets, explored historic speeches, closely read speeches by Jefferson, Lincoln, King and Roosevelt, and then put pen to paper to express our own thoughts.

For me, the National Oratory Fellows Retreat is a wonderful time, but the process of teaching oratory all year long is the true payoff. Now back from the Retreat, I have been working with my students on their original speeches. This is as rewarding as watching my two young charges, selected from the full class to attend the Retreat, on the stage at Ford’s. That isn’t to take away from the Retreat; it’s just that my students’ insights and courage awe me. What we ask of students as teachers challenges them, and when students meet and exceed these challenges, they inspire.

It’s difficult, even at its best. Learning (and teaching) oratory is hard work. You are asking young women and men, in some of their most awkward moments, to stand in front their peers and open themselves up in a manner even most adults avoid. It requires courage on the part of the student and tenacity on the part of the teacher. And this is when things go well.

Success looks different for each student, and me. Teaching oratory to students in different places as readers or writers means creating various roadmaps, and the act of public speaking itself can make teaching oratory difficult. In some cases, teachers have to encourage students with little confidence to use what they’ve learned to “fake it until they make it.” In other situations, you’re encouraging students who mistake confidence for preparation. You’re telling them that “faking it” isn’t a substitute for hard work. Even the process of selecting two students to represent their class in Washington, D.C., for the retreat made for awkward moments, leaving some kids disappointed. As part of his Ford’s performance, one of my selected kids wisely spoke about how losing hones you for later success; but that knowledge may be little consolation in the moment when you learn your best just missed the mark.

Good teaching transforms those difficult moments into teachable ones. That occurred under the watchful eye of a talented team at Ford’s and the other National Oratory Fellows, who encouraged and cajoled the best out of each other and their students.

The people surrounding you are essential to your success. One of my most profound moments  at the retreat was watching the dress rehearsal. As they stood on the Ford’s stage, energy and nerves got the best of some of the kids and they struggled with memory or delivery. You could tell some wanted to step away from the podium, but Lead Teaching Artist Thembi Duncan proved a kind but implacable director. She imbued those kids with a will to adapt and move on. Not one student walked away!

Throughout the year I watched our teaching artist, Victoria Reinsel, work tirelessly with my students and then, as part of the cadre of teaching artists, with (selected students) Reid and Will during the retreat. Victoria is a talented woman who is investing in these students in ways many of them won’t fully comprehend until they’re older.

In addition, most of my students will never comprehend how Associate Director for Arts Education Cynthia Gertsen, the rest of the Ford’s staff and my fellow Oratory Fellows invested in me with their time, resources and camaraderie. Teaching can be a lonely profession and these educators and staff members partnered with me in ways that made me better as a teacher.

It’s a milestone, but it is far from over. Two days after the retreat, I held my grandchild, Charlie Marie, for the first time and I thought, “This is just the start of the adventure.” As my charges move from the middle to the upper school this coming September, this is just the start for them as well. Thanks to Ford’s, my two student delegates as well as their classmates move to their new adventure with skills and insights to build upon.

That’s all a teacher (and grandfather) can ask for.

Dave McIntire is a social studies teacher at The Independent School in Wichita, Kansas, teaching American, Kansas and European History, as well as Civics, Oratory and Research. Before he became an educator nine years ago, he worked as a reporter, youth pastor and professional trainer. He is a 2013-2014 Ford’s Theatre National Oratory Fellow and Remembering Lincoln Teacher Representative, and also has been a Catherine B. Reynolds Civil War Washington Teacher Fellow.