I’m sitting in a hotel room in St. Charles, IL, just outside Chicago and I’m about to do a hard thing: run a marathon.
This exists to chronicle the challenges of leveling the playing field for poor students in my history courses, so running may seem far afield. Even so, it feels dishonest to not note something so prominent in my life. On runs I craft lessons, puzzle out how to reach students, despair and revel in recent classes, and sometimes just forget I teach and mind the glory of the state of Minnesota.
Perhaps the most important intersection between my running and my students is the strength I draw from them. So many faces challenges far beyond those I’ve faced, or challenges I faced with 15 years more experience. Running a marathon is not easy, but for many of my students, life is harder. It’s harder for the recovering heroin addict who shared his recovery story with me in the fall of 2009 when I came to Normandale. It’s harder for the student of mine who works overnight-shifts at a factory so she can send money home to her father in E. Africa. It’s harder for my student who is 19 and raising a child alone. Their stories are theirs and I don’t wish to co-opt that power, but I will run on it. I run inspired by a decade of students, every one with a story.
I need to run now. I do not run alone.