As I approached my grill to uncover it, I noticed a monarch among the wet leaves. It appeared to be stuck to the cover and, having a soft spot in my heart for these transcontinental aviators, I felt compelled to figure out a way to save it.

I don’t think it is crazy that this fragile beauty was hanging onto my fingers for dear life. It wasn’t over the top that I googled how to save a monarch. These insects represent the intense struggle to survive; to keep their species on earth no matter what.

Well, I cut up a new sponge and made a syrup with sugar water. I placed the butterfly on the sponge and watched.

Remembering from teaching all those years of science, that OBSERVATION is itself a teacher. I looked at the compound eyes. Yes, they were looking at me. I thought what an overload that image must be! But little by little, it stuck out its long tongue and uncurled in onto the sponge.

I want to tell you it was like when Popeye ate spinach and instantly became strong, but alas, the Monarch sat on the sponge on my hanging plant and allowed me to reach over and hold it in my hand.

Sometimes moments like this are transformative. In some primal way, I felt the need to protect this creation of our beautiful earth.

How will you bring the message to your students this year that we are a part of a bigger ecosphere? Will you connect with the damaged students, unable to spread their wings? Will you reach for them, hold them in your hand, and encourage their growth?

I hope so.

It is a harsh environment, sometimes.

Just as I had no idea how that butterfly got on my grill cover (probably goofing around) you will never know the heartache of students’ lives. You won’t know where they slept the night before, who was loud and not allowing for sleep, who didn’t get a decent meal, who had parents that had golf league and didn’t tuck them in or read, mom’s or dad’s with new spouses that seem to get all the attention…..

You are the connection. You are the example. You are the constant.

I am really not sure what happened to my Monarch. I opened the blind to see it was still on the plant the next morning and it was. It was as if it was giving me a thank you. Later that morning it was gone.

I want to believe it left because I nurtured it to survive. Yet, I have no way of knowing if it was gobbled up by some hungry grackle.

I did what was needed at the time. But, as much as I would have liked to have followed my charge, I had to allow it to find its way.

Good Luck to all the teachers this year.

They will soon know that their impact goes beyond the cuteness of their classrooms (I hope).

The pressure is real and has nothing to do with State benchmarks.

Thanks for listening.

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