what happens when you open your heart to students: in this issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last evening, a long and beautiful conversation over dinner with dear friends; the gift of a hummingbird's nest; the blue-green globe of a harvested watermelon. Through the night, work on a single Florence scene (woodpeckers with green heads; uncertain love). Then, this morning, the discovery that an essay I had written for The Pennsylvania Gazette—a magazine more handsome (in my humble opinion) than The New Yorker (and you know how I love The New Yorker) and just as smart—is live. This is the story I wrote about the students I love, and it begins in New Orleans, with my Katie, who met me there one morning for beignets.

The opening paragraphs are here, below. The story can be read in its entirety, here. And can I just say how much I love the illustration, which was built from a photograph that I had sent? Someone has tamed my hair and given me some charm. No one will ever quite capture the beauty of Katie.

John Prendergast and Trey Popp, thank you for saying yes—for letting me tell this story to Penn parents, Penn alum, my own students. Thank you, too, for putting so many of my students in your pages through the years. Those interested in reading some of those student essays should click here and here. And also here. You'll be wowed. I still am.

By Beth Kephart | It had to be beignets. It had to be early on a steamy day beneath the green-and-white striped awnings of Café Du Monde, on the edge of the French Quarter.

“Meet you there,” Katie said. I said.

You buy the beignets three at a time. You dig for them beneath considerable dustings of soft-as-silk white sugar. You look up and across the table, and there she is—your former student, laughing at your incompetence with doughnuts.

This is the way an adjunct teacher’s family grows: one student at a time. One story you can’t shake. One question asked, one something confided, one breakthrough sentence, one email sent at midnight, one handwritten thank-you note for a recommendation gladly offered, one warm plate of a Creole specialty.


Serena said...

Congrats and it is beautiful.

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh, I love this essay! You and your students are so lucky to have and learn from one another.

kate hopper said...

OH yes, that's it. Exactly. Thank you!

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