I'm a science teacher at Shelton High School. I love my job ... on most days. Some days cannot end soon enough, for example, last Friday. It had been a long week. We were already working diligently in anticipation of a four-day visit from a committee that will be evaluating every aspect of our school, an accreditation process that is carried out once every 10 years. As if that was not stressful enough, Thursday and Friday brought more challenges to the table.
Thursday began with a bombardment of complaints from many students who didn't want to be in school on Veterans Day. Not long after the start of first period, I found myself on the football field with the entire school population. We were swiftly evacuated because of a bomb threat in the building. There we sat for three hours in the chilly November sunshine. We finally made it back into the building before lunch and continued the day, thanks to the organization of the faculty and administration. Friday finally came, and with less than an hour and a half until the weekend, we were evacuated yet again, because of another bomb threat.
I left work on Friday feeling cynical and agitated, wondering why all of this was happening. Why am I a teacher when it seems like kids just don't want to learn? Am I just too idealistic? Should I not care as much? What is so wrong in our culture that allows students to threaten the safety of others? I was demoralized and bitter. I didn't even go out to dinner with my friends that night because I was in such a negative mood and I didn't want to bring them down.
I went to bed early and woke up Saturday, searching for something to restore my faith in humanity; something to turn my attitude around. Ironic as it seemed at the time, I turned to the students of Shelton High School. Normally, I would retreat to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and clear my thoughts during a peaceful hike in the woods, but not this time. Instead, I thought of the seven groups of students who went above and beyond to hand in an experiment proposal last week, each of them vying for one slot on board the NASA space shuttle to be launched in February ... awesome. Later, I went to see the SHS girls varsity soccer team continue their domination and shut out yet another team, advancing to the state semifinals. After a simple dinner with my beautiful girlfriend, I went to see the closing performance of "My Generation," an absolutely incredible Scarpa family production at Center Stage in Shelton. The show featured many students from Shelton High School and Shelton Intermediate School.
I left the show feeling refreshed, energized, and remembering that there is good in our little corner of the world. Thank you to the students who submitted the space shuttle experiment proposals, to the lady Gaels soccer team and their coaching staff, to Gary, Fran, Gina, and Mia Scarpa, and to the cast and crew of "My Generation." Thank you for inspiring me and reminding me why I'm a teacher here, in Shelton. I'm ready for another week. Your positive energy is contagious.
Daniel Nazzaro is a science teacher at Shelton High School.