Horton – By Ms. Shannon Buelt
Each time I begin a new semester with a class of freshman students, I spend a great amount of time encouraging them to be open to new experiences, to new people, to new opportunities. Each Religious Studies class begins with a prayer and reflective experience, and one of the first reflections I lead centers on the book, “Horton Hatches an Egg”. If you are not familiar with the story, it is about an elephant, Horton, who is asked by a bird to sit on her egg so that she can take a break from her responsibilities. At first, Horton is reluctant, not because he wasn’t willing to help, but he was concerned that he could cause harm to the tiny egg if he sat on it. The whiny mama bird finally convinces Horton that she trusts that he can do it, so leaves the elephant uncertain about everything except the importance of doing what he has promised. I won’t spoil the story for you, but Horton’s life is turned upside down, leading him to a new life which he and the reader could NEVER have expected.
In a way, my life reflects Horton’s. As a child, and into my adolescence, my family moved several times. I am an introvert and am uncomfortable sharing new experiences with new people. With each move, my mother reminded me that while I had no choice about making the move, I was in control of how I reacted to it… I could be miserable, or be open to whatever was to come. I hated that speech! But she was right. Being open and trusting in God has afforded me opportunities to grow and experience the love of incredible individuals who challenge me, support me, chastise me, and comfort me.
When I was asked to apply for a religious studies teaching position at Brebeuf Jesuit, I was flattered but scared to death. These kids were rich! These kids were smart! And the faculty! Impressive, intimidating! I accepted the job anyway. The first year was rough! Five classes, four preps, teaching freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. I pulled all-nighters to get grading done. My end of the semester evaluations were brutal; one of my sophomore students gave me the lowest points possible, but added that “at least she was enthusiastic”. Each day after school my friend and department chair, Peggy Crawford, would make me promise that I would come back the next morning.
I did come back, and have been doing so for the past 15 years. But it’s time to see what else is out there for me, taking Mom’s advice to remain open and relying on God’s guidance. I have cherished the opportunity to teach and learn from my incredible students, whose intelligence and curiosity is rivaled only by their care for their families, friends and the good of the world. I am grateful to have had the privilege of working with outstanding groups of adults who, first and foremost, are dedicated to the students; I will miss being with them as we worked and played. This has been an extraordinary experience and like Horton, my life has been better for it.
Ms. Shannon Buelt