The cool thing about Derek Jeter is that he went out while he was still on top. He was still “Derek Jeter”. You know? He wasn’t a has-been. He wasn’t that sad old guy that made everyone feel bad when he came up to bat.
The same is true of Michael Jordan. He was still “Michael”. Sigh. Best looking basketball player since Gerald Henderson. He was Michael. He was a basketball GOD.
Maybe teaching should be the same. Maybe those of us who were stars back in the day should learn how to gracefully step aside while we are still “My Favorite Teacher!” Maybe we should accept the fact that time goes by, teaching trends shift, expectations change.
Today I had a very emotional day. The PTSO came to show me the books that were purchased in my name for the school library. I read the words: “In appreciation for the many years of service”. I teared up, big time. I imagined years of children pulling the books off the shelf and seeing my name.
I pictured them asking each other, “Who’s this?”
I suddenly understood: if the old guard doesn’t step aside, the new stars cannot emerge.
I was really good at my job. Oh, I was no Derek Jeter, but I was a pretty good utility infielder. I had my time. And now that time is over.
I want to be Derek Jeter. I want to go out gracefully, maybe with a home run to celebrate the end of my career.
I don’t want to be Brett Favre. I don’t want the young people to feel sad when they see me desperately trying to hang on to my glory days.
Today I met the young man who will be joining our team in my place. He is alert, energetic, excited. He is smart and happy and ready to go.
He is the new star.
I need to wish him well, hand over my favorite bat, and bow out gracefully.
For once in my non-athletic life, I need to share something with the admirable Derek Jeter.