Jenna Swann - 2000 Winner
This is the text of remarks made May 17th by Jenna Swann, McGlothlin Teacher 2000, in thanking The McGlothlin Foundation for her experiences...
In India and Nepal, when I would mention that I was a teacher, without fail, the people listening would spontaneously fold their hands in the attitude of blessing. They were not praising my professional choice, but honoring something more profound-- the need, the gift that teachers have to be there in each moment, to see, to help, to create the heart of a classroom, anywhere, without walls, without clocks, without contracts.
This frame contains two photographs that I would like to present to Tom McGlothlin. One picture shows a rural landscape in central Nepal: terraced land divided by stone walls, each piece of stone hefted by hand out of the small fields. The other photograph shows the back of me--a moment my travel partner Jane captured as I took video of the landscape in the first photograph. Two young Tibetan children, refugees, had toddled over to me, one on either side and they squatted down to watch me.
Children are brave and confident when they have grown up well protected and surrounded by love. These two small boys put their hands on my shoulders, smiled the whole time and laughed as we tried to communicate through gestures.
What I want all of you to see in this photo, and in that moment is three souls who had journeyed to a common point, the innocent willingness between us, the absence of racism, boredom, cunning or greed. What I want you to see is that we were a classroom.
This moment was the kind of classroom all teachers discover once they realize that they ARE teachers. Teaching is not only a job, it is an inclination, a constant impulse. One inclines to teaching as a plant inclines toward light.
I thought of Tom McGlothlin so often during my amazing journey. Among the remarkable people I would meet-- the nomads, refugees, beggars, healers, porters, tailors, -- I would think of Tom McGlothlin. Five hundred years ago the word would have come to our lips more easily-- a word we fail to honor these days, in the deep way Tom McGlothlin honors us teachers, with his magnificently conceived award. The word is Patron. I see now that a patron is the humble magician who makes the soil in which teachers grow. Whoever you are-- the two next McGlothlin winners-- bring your students and your patron the gift of stories. Grow well for them. Incline toward the light. And reveal the classrooms that will never happen until you arrive!
Thank you, Tom.