As the crowd spills out of Riverside Church after the morning keynote, I stride forward along the sidewalk, eating up the open spaces. I navigate between groups of teachers straggling toward the first session. Quickly I reach the corner and step over the mounded snowbank into the street. Bodies press closer together here and my advantage is lost. I shorten my steps to match the throng around me and edge across as the signal begins to flash orange.
The sidewalk along the next block is covered by scaffolding, making it feel enclosed. The crowd inches forward impatiently as those closer to the corner wait for the light to change. An eddy of people have spilled off the sidewalk, swirling up the street outside the cars parked parallel to the grey stone of the building. And up ahead in the street, just before the corner I see a head a little apart from the others. Standing still amidst the flood of motion. Calling out to the horde.
Lucy, stands in the street, marhshalling teachers, most of us not from the city. Cautioning against stepping in front of taxis. Cajoling to wait for the light.
Somehow this strikes me as metaphorical, though the exact significance remains elusive.
Like all teachers, she wears many hats.
Not only do we teach reading and writing and content. We coax those who are timid to try, those who need friends toward one another. We tie little sneakers and zip up coats. We bring granola bars and fruit for the hungry ones. We offer a safe space to those who need one. We show up early or stay late because something else needs doing. When we see our students, not matter where we are–at lunch, on the playground, in a store on the weekend–we look out for them. When we take them on field trips into the world we repeatedly count noses. Like a mother goose and her goslings.
And so in addition to shaping how we teach reading and writing, in addition to hosting thousands in an endeavor that must take countless hours of planning across many months, Lucy stood in the road and directed the flow of teacher traffic because though we were thousands, we could still be hurt by cars.