Teacher Appreciation May 2022
Dear Central Academy students and parents,
When I was 9 years old, on the first day of summer vacation, I broke my arm in a particularly rough game of tag with my friends from the neighborhood. It was a nasty break of both bones in my forearm. I ran home screaming for my mom in the way all parents everywhere recognize with instant and sudden alarm.
Moments later, Mom assessed my green face, trembling attitude, and weirdly mangled arm, and said something that I have never forgotten. “When you can control nothing else, you can control your breathing.”
She walked me through a brief lesson on controlling pain with breathing from her childbirth classes. She continued to coach me on how to focus on my breath as she drove me with mad intent to the hospital.
I’ve learned since then the truth of her advice in an array of situations from physical to emotional, and from severe pain to mild discomfort or unease. When you can control nothing else, you can control your breathing.
I used her advice when I was taking my comprehensive final for my master’s degree. It was a 4-hour timed test over the entirety of my coursework and determined if I would be awarded the degree which I had worked for over the preceding four years. I came across an incomprehensible question which was worth a quarter of the score. Panic rose as failure loomed in my mind. When you can control nothing else, you can control your breathing.
I closed my eyes and spent precious minutes taking deep full breaths and pushed the panic aside. Re-reading the question a few minutes later, I realized I knew exactly what it was asking and how to answer it.
The month of May brings back my mother’s advice every year. Parents share their bittersweet pride and inexplicable tears as their children get ready to graduate. Students line up to check-in for their AP exams clutching their pencils and pens with a familiar nervous energy. And end-of-semester deadlines compete with the spring activities and events.
May 2022, however, is occurring with the backdrop of our desperate desire to return to “normal”. We crave for our concerns to be limited to graduation, AP exams, and end-of-year deadlines. But this is still not quite a normal year.
We are grieving the loss of a student crossing the street last week. The national and international news continues to pound shocking and confounding revelations and events. And many of us are eyeing an uncertain summer.
When you can control nothing else, you can control your breathing.
Our breathing, as a community, comes in small, regular acts of kindness. This week is Teacher Appreciation week and the Academy parents have come together to provide teachers with surprises, such as delicious lunches, every day. Many students and parents have written notes of gratitude to teachers and staff. I see people at school holding open doors for others whose arms are full. I hear kind words of compliments and courageously spoken concerns in the hallways. I notice people reaching out and asking for help when they feel overwhelmed. These types of interaction are examples of our community taking deep breaths, re-centering itself.
What I did not realize when I was 9 years old, careening to the hospital with a horribly broken arm, was that my mother’s advice was directed at both of us. By helping me with my breathing, she was also helping herself. When you reach beyond your own distress to give to others your gratitude, kindness, and sympathy, it eases your stress, too.
I am amazed and exceedingly proud of the Academy students this year! Your fortitude, determination, and generosity of spirit have breathed hope and encouragement into me. Seeing you care for others and yourself through your actions and interactions eases the worries that keep me up at night. You might think your small acts of effort and kindness are inconsequential. But they are, in fact, essential to our communal well-being. Because when you can control nothing else, you can control your kindness.
May 2 – May 20: AP Exams. Find exam information at https://ca.dmschools.org/adv-placement/ap-exam-information/
May 24: Last day for Academy seniors. Senior semester grades due from teachers that evening.
May 30, Memorial Day: Schools are closed in remembrance of those who have died in active military service.
June 3: Last day of Academy classes. Period 1 – 3 only. Most Middle Schools keep their students at their home schools on this day for special end-of-year celebrations.
June 6: Semester grades due from teachers by end of day.
June 20: Last day for students to sign up for a free AP Score Report from the College Board. The College Board will send your full set of AP Scores to the college, university, or scholarship program of your choice, for free, if you tell them where to send the report. The first report each year is free. You may order additional reports at a cost. Sign into your College Board Account > My AP Profile > Score Send
July: AP Exam scores released. See your scores by logging into your College Board account https://myap.collegeboard.org The exact date in July has not been given. Usually it is around July 5 – 7.
August 24: First Day of fall classes in Des Moines Public Schools. We will have a Back-to-School Night probably on August 22. More to come on that…