“Beginning Educator”: these are the words that are printed on the first teaching certificate a new teacher receives from the State of New Hampshire. The second certificate, and every renewal thereafter, says “Experienced Educator.” When Tim became an “Experienced Educator” three years after he received his first certificate, he decided not to change the title of the twice-monthly columns he’d been writing for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript newspaper, because he felt like a beginner still. He felt like a beginner throughout his teaching career, and for his whole life, he never stopped learning.
Tim taught for 13 years at ConVal High School, following a nearly 30-year career in journalism. He began this journey at 50, fairly set in his ways, used to the routines of a job he loved, and a touch arrogant about his ability to adjust to life in a public high school. He almost didn’t make it through the first 12 weeks of school, but by March of his first year, he thought he might survive. I had begun teaching in the public schools three years before Tim did and had more experience in education, so I was able to coach him through some challenges. But in the long run, I think he helped me as much as I helped him.
One reason behind our success was that we almost always walked the dogs together when we got home in the afternoon from our respective schools. We talked a mile a minute during these walks, about our students, our struggles, our joys, our failures, and the state of public education. These walks, and the conversations we shared along the way, allowed us to reflect, analyze, strategize, and support each other through the best and worst of times. Often the thoughts we shared would make their way into Tim’s column. Tim died before this book could be published, but he especially wanted his grandchildren to have it. He wanted them to know his thoughts, understand his experience, and be able to be close to him always. We, Tim’s family, are delighted to share the essence of Tim with all of you.