Anne Swayze
A winter storm finally has arrived in Vermont, and as expected, the greater town of Putney has lost electricity.
Years earlier, this may have meant reshuffling the day’s expectations; however, with generators hooked up to our dorm, academic building, dining hall, and admissions building, we are humming along at an almost perfect pace. A few buildings lack a generator, and it may be a bit chilly this evening; however, our Vermont resourcefulness will bring out headlamps and lanterns to prepare lessons for tomorrow. 

The wonderful outcome of a January storm is the laughter and excitement that resonates from the dorm and outside areas. Sleds, toboggans, and snowboards are tossed this way and that. Snow-covered boots, wet mittens, and layers of clothes lay haphazardly in the foyer of the dorm. Students linger over cups of hot chocolate and PB&J sandwiches and plan to head out again under the full moon. This is precisely what we need to muddle through our beautiful yet long Vermont winter. A second storm is expected mid-week, and students may be daring each other to take the plunge on Friday morning.

During January and February, I have the opportunity to meet with each faculty member, review their year-to-date, and discuss what the upcoming year will look like. For some, the conversation may focus on an updated role. For others, it may be sharing a new idea. Today, meeting with a faculty member, they spoke about ‘pockets of magic’ that they have discovered during the last few months; a student who thanked them for creating quiet moments during each class period for reflection or the high five that arrived following a successful ascent on our indoor climbing wall or witnessing the personal connection with an advisee. This ‘magic’ happens inside and outside of the classroom. We see it take shape as students create relationships with friends, when they are physically challenged, and when they become more confident in their academic journey. These moments are not always recognizable at the time they occur. More than likely, they imprint on our person in subtle ways, and at some point down the road, we share in that  ‘AhHa’ moment. That time, you say to yourself, ‘oh, now I get it.’

You can’t build magic into a teaching syllabus or predict when it might occur, but for those who embrace working with students as our vocation, these spectacular moments happen, and when they arrive, they light up our lives. The idea is to enter each day with our hearts wide open and remember that Greenwood is a place where students find their sense of self, their voice, and the ability to dream in a way they never thought was possible. 

I am writing this piece with the gentle glow of a lantern while staying warm wrapped in a favorite down sleeping bag. I know the power will return at some point, today or tomorrow, and all things will begin to hum again - the refrigerator, the heat, the washing machine - those conveniences found on campus. But for right now, right this very moment, I am incredibly ok sitting in the dark, in a house that is a little chilly, writing thoughts about this school and your boys.