Reflecting on Thresholds – Staff Development at Hess

Blessing the Threshold  

This blessing
has been waiting for you
for a long time.

While you have been
making your way here
this blessing has been
gathering itself
making ready
biding its time

This blessing has been
polishing the door
oiling the hinges
sweeping the steps
lighting candles
in the windows.

This blessing has been
setting the table
as it hums a tune
from an old song
it knows,
something about
a spiraling road
and bread
and grace.

All this time
it has kept an eye
on the horizon,
keeping vigil,
hardly aware of how
it was leaning itself
in your direction.

And now that
you are here
this blessing
can hardly believe
its good fortune
that you have finally arrived,
that it can drop everything
at last
to fling its arms wide
to you, crying

-Jan L. Richardson

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As we usher in a new calendar year and the second half of our year of learning, the staff at Hess Academy came together to reflect on how far we’ve journeyed and the possibilities in store for us in the months ahead. Staff development is an important component of our teaching and learning philosophy at Hess; as we teach the skills and habits of mind necessary for students to become lifelong learners, we model these same behaviors by taking an active role in our own professional development. This month, we were inspired by the poetry and work of Jan L. Richardson, and her writing on the theme of Thresholds. The teachers read the poem above and took some time to quietly write and reflect on how these words resonate with their own personal teaching experiences and philosophies. Richardson writes:

I am still fascinated by thresholds—those places we come to that lie between the life we have known and the life ahead of us. I am continually intrigued—and eager, and fearful, and amazed, and mystified—to enter into those spaces where we have left the landscape of the familiar, the habitual, and stand poised at the edge of a terrain whose contours we can hardly see or even imagine.

Whether we arrive at these between-places by design, by accident, or by the choices that others have made for us, the threshold can be a place of wonders. It can also be chaotic, discombobulating, and even terrifying. Yet a threshold, chosen or otherwise, is a place of wild possibility. A threshold invites and calls us to stop. To take a look around. To imagine. To dream. To question.

 As we stand poised on the brink of a new and exciting year and the last leg of our academic year, we teachers also find ourselves looking around, amazed, marveling, mystified, and incredibly energized by the possibilities afforded on this threshold. We are so grateful we had the opportunity to sit quietly in this space and stop and take stock, and to share in each other’s hopes and fears for the months ahead. We are honored to get to take this journey alongside so many incredible families and students, and we believe it’s this community bond that makes it possible for all of us to stand at the threshold of 2015 with open arms saying welcome, welcome, welcome.

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