One year ago, I hadn’t even started my training to become a teacher and now I am almost done with my first year. I was accepted into the New York City Teaching fellows on April 10, I took my state exams on May 16, I started training on June 15, I started student teaching on July 1, I got a job on August 18, and I started teaching on September 8.  The rest is a blur.

Recently, the city speaks a lot about budgets, and cuts, and last one in first one out, and it just doesn’t add up. Something tells me there will not be a decrease in student population and class sizes are already bulging at the seams.

They say they want to spend 5 million dollars on the new teacher project. I liked this project last year because it funded my career change. However, I am sure the city spent a lot of money last year on the project which would be a waste if they get rid of all the new teachers. I wonder if they will do the same next year?

In the meantime, I do what I was taught, which is teach. My oldest brother always used the phrase “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” This phrase has come in handy one or two times along the way. My school has already started bracing for what could happen, but keep going as if unaffected.

This week the principal put the following in the weekly memo:

Pantoum of the Great Depression

a poem by Donald Justice


Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.

Simply by going on and on
We managed. No need for the heroic.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
I don’t remember all the particulars.

We managed. No need for the heroic.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
I don’t remember all the particulars.
Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.

There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows
Thank god no one said anything in verse.
The neighbors were our only chorus,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.

At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
No audience would ever know our story.

It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
What audience would ever know our story?
Beyond our windows shone the actual world.

We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
Somewhere beyond our windows shone the world.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.

And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
We did not ourselves know what the end was.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.

But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
People like us simply go on.
We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,
But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.

And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

Advertisements