Acceptance Speech for the “Lighton Prize for Teaching Excellence”

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Teaching is part of an ecosystem. There are towering trees and low-hanging fruit. There are gentle rolling hills and intimidatingly steep mountains. There are the clearly marked trails and there is thick underbrush and thorny bramble; gulleys, ditches, valleys, holes, cliffs, quicksand, hornets, skunks, brackish water, and monkeys… in the trees… watching.
There are the teacher’s pets that instill confidence in young recruits. There are the wild animals in the back of the room that force us to broaden our perspective and hone new skills to gain their trust.
There are the trainers: the parents, the co-teachers and the collaborators; they teach us when to stand up and use our words and when to crouch down and keep quiet behind a rock.
There’s the KCYAs, the funders, the board and there’s the students that will, in the future, blaze new trails and continue the journey of learning and the battle for education.
And there are those that know the value of planting a seed… watering the ground… and then taking a step back.
Teaching is part of an ecosystem. That ecosystem is our community. Birth, growth, death, rebirth, revitalization of a community.
On November 23 of 1900, the writer and humorist from the great state of missouri, Mark Twain, said “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail.”
When I say “thank you” I don’t mean thanks for listening. I mean thank you for being part of the community and part of the educational ecosystem.
Thank you

– Dino O’Dell, September 10, 2014

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