Afraid of a Different Darkness

Somewhere, somebody thought it was a good idea to write a prayer service for night. What I never understood until now is that it wasn't just the literal darkness that occupied their most urgent words for God.

I'm sitting here trying to remember when I was first aware that I was afraid of the dark.

I'm not afraid of the dark anymore, of course, at least, not in any kind of paralyzing way. Occasionally I'll be downstairs in our house, with all the lights off, and I'll scoot up the steps with an extra boost of adrenaline with the notion that someone--something--was lurking in the shadows, waiting for me.

I know it's silly. But such a feeling gave me a well of empathy for our daughter when she went through a spell demanding we leave her closet light on through the nighttime. And while we can at least extinguish that bulb these days, she still sleeps with a nightlight. A few, actually. Most nights, we say a little prayer that she sleeps through the night without bad dreams.

The Episcopal Church has a handful of different services, but one I'm particularly fond of is Evening Prayer. It's a simple church service meant to be offered every single night (few churches do this; ours only offers daily evening prayer during Lent), a slow reflection of the day, a reading of the assigned scripture, a handful of prayers.


Restore the NC Teaching Fellows Program

North Carolina was once a noted leader in public education, and we maintained that accomplishment in part by creating one of the boldest, most effective, and most successful state-sponsored teacher preparation scholarships to ever exist: The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.

Founded in 1986 in response to a critical teacher shortage, the NC Teaching Fellows program sent hundreds of highly qualified students to NC universities every year, enriching their college preparations with supplemental programming every summer, and asking only that graduates teach in North Carolina public schools for four years upon graduation. The program awarded annual scholarships of $6,500 to 500 recipients.

The numbers were commendable: tens of thousands of students applied; more than 8,500 graduated and went to work in public schools. They filled classrooms in every one of our state's 100 counties. Four out of five accomplished their initial four year teaching obligation; more than 64 percent remained in the classroom for more than six years after their contract was fulfilled. (By contrast only 10 percent of Teach for America graduates remain in the classroom beyond five years.)

Not only did the program plant highly recruited teachers in rural counties, its graduates were increasingly diverse. 50 percent of Teaching Fellows were male, and half of scholarship recipients were minorities.


Making it 'Round the Bases

There's nothing more American than when your kid goes out for baseball. How a run-down field and a pink ball glove added up to something huge.

A few weeks ago when I was on a work trip, Kel mentioned that the local rec center was signing up kids for tee ball teams, and she wondered what I thought if Julia signed up. I think I was in Boston, maybe between appointments. I said go for it.

It was a casual sort of thing--I mean, this isn't something you spend a lot of time mulling over per se--and before it even struck me that Julia was about to be on a team that played ball on a diamond, I was looking over the information, processing in my head that my preemie baby girl was about to go learn America's greatest game.

Of course, I had to teach her a few things first.