It pains me to note here that one of my favorite English professors at my alma mater has announced that he will not be returning to our university. He was the head of our English education program, as well as my personal university supervisor for my student teaching, and he informed a number of recent students in the English ed program of his decision not to return. As I told him personally, I think he will be sorely missed, and I do think that the English program will suffer more than a little for the loss. Not only will a suitable replacement need to be found for heading up English education, but I think it is a rare feat to find someone who is so interested in incorporating language study into English language arts and who expresses such an interest in trying to understand what makes teachers last. (I continue to devote myself to keeping up on my membership with NCTE and our local chapter, IATE, because of his conclusion that a common strand tied to longevity of teachers is membership in professional organizations.)
The silver lining in all of this for me is that he is leaving the university not to take another professorship but is instead returning to his passion: teaching middle school language arts, specifically in Boston, where he taught language arts for a number of years. On hearing this news, I was not surprised in the least: although he has done marvelously teaching college English courses, talking to him for any length of time will bring out this passion, and I think this move is a good one for him.
So, Dr. M, this is to wish you well in your return to – shall we say – the middle. You have given me so many insights into the teaching of English (I just started reading an EJ article by Peter Smagorinsky and thought of you) and to the world of YA literature – and for that especially I am extremely grateful. May your return be satisfying – and don’t worry, I’ll keep you in mind if I ever make it out to Boston.