One of my fellow teachers at Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, TX, Mrs. Jackie Greenfield is retiring after 24 years of service as an English teacher. Though it ages me to share, I am honored that I was one of her first students at the school.
A Poem for Mrs. Greenfield, Upon her Retirement
From fields of green, she emerged as a light
that lit the very stones we walked;
orange no more, they gleamed with a glow
that strengthened us with every step.
Her lightening laugh, her glimmering eyes,
they raised our hearts above the din
of teenage howls, of raged delight,
of all the tests a school can hold.
A dozen years, and a dozen more,
seem such a brevity to dance
beside a sprite whose spirit sings
with every breath, at every chance.
And yet, although we watch her go,
we know that she will never part:
our verdant vale, our Wacky Jackie,
your living was your greatest art.
(As do most introductions from Pam, and most meetings with Cat and Chris!)
Within a few weeks, I had recruited my friend Baxter Underwood to join me in my first drive to Bryan, TX, where we would volunteer in PEP’s Business Plan Competition at the Hamilton Unit. Within a few hours, I found myself not only giving feedback on business pitches … but laughing, dancing, and even weeping from the testimonies of men like Marcus Hill, who graduated from PEP that day. Today, Marcus is the lead recruiter for PEP, and he remains one of the spiritual rocks upon which I can ceaselessly rely for guidance, encouragement, and the occasional much-needed smack across the back of my head.
I soon joined PEP’s Dallas Advisory Board, where I served until I joined the staff in 2012. Although I left the position three years later, I remain a volunteer and advocate for the organization. I have also since volunteered at Youth With Faces, a nonprofit that serves incarcerated youth … and which is led by my dear friend, Chris Quadri, whose personal testimony is what started me on this journey in the first place.
The journey has culminated in this talk that I gave earlier this week at Ignite DFW6. The format itself was challenge … 20 slides that automatically rotated every 15 seconds. So, forgive the pace at which I speak; the talk was unofficially sponsored by Red Bull.