I am going to miss this place

On July 5, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Sam Martin

When I applied to the program, part of my motivation was selfish. I graduated five years ago with a laundry list of regrets. I did not connect with all of the teachers I wanted to, I should have taken more art classes, joined the choir, been in more clubs, even studied a little harder. As a result, I did not get the closure I needed to close the door on high school and leap forward into college. That is not to say that I did not enjoy my time in college, nor exploit the opportunities afforded me during my undergraduate program — I had learned that lesson from high school. However, the metronomic, emphatic pleas of my Brophy Big Brother, Bob Ryan, my parents, and counselors — warning me that my time at Brophy will slip by without notice if I do not take it upon myself to create my own memories — fell on my stubborn, deaf teenaged ears.

This year of service was a chance to connect with some of those teachers, get involved on campus, and work a little harder in hopes of giving back to a school that provided me with more than I can scarcely conceptualize. I hope I did give back enough. I did have great experiences as a teacher, retreat leader, and mentor. I have learned the value of true patience, the gift of empathy, and just how important the details are in life — all the moments we experience are the sum of our life. As the year comes to a close, I reflect on what I have accomplished and what is being left on the table and I am happy to say my table is virtually empty. And more importantly, this time I am five years older, five years wiser, five years more capable of dealing with this institutional break up in a healthy way. Right?

Wrong. In the final weeks of school I clung to every interaction I had with students, especially the seniors. I wasted no opportunity to encourage them to make good, healthy choices in college and avoid the temptations thrown at them. The days are so numbered that time spent sitting in my office working feels like time wasted. I am going to miss my colleagues; especially those who reached out to me and helped to make up part of my formation this year.

Now that it is summer school, things are…different. No more class of 2014, no more daily announcements, no more teaching health, no more of a lot of things. There are still students on campus, but they are seldom in my vicinity and moving through their day on a different schedule than my own. I work with the little kids now in Summer Loyola Project. I love those little guys to death, but to them I am just another adult. I am merely the authority figure and bus driver. It is not the same as the unique relationship I built with high school students during the year.

During the school year, walking through campus at 5:00 pm was like walking through campus at Break; students are everywhere, doing everything, spending several hours on campus beyond the compulsory seven we ask for every day. Now, walking through campus at 5:00 pm is like wandering through a ghost town, which leads me to the bittersweet part of my break up here.

From August to May, an empty Brophy campus is hard to come by, it really only happens in the middle of the night (yes, I have come to campus at 10:00 pm, just to have it to myself) and it is sacred. When it is empty, it feels as if the buildings and sculptures are inviting you to have your own, quiet Examen. That familiar Ignatian prayer always leads back to reflections on my relationships with students and teachers, both as a student and as a teacher. I play out the scenes in my head as I survey that dark campus: jokes from Danforth that showed me that teachers are human too, the stench of dissections and the intrigue that made me pursue medicine, the homilies from Dutch during daily Mass, the chants of “Let’s go home!” for no apparent reason other than Bob Ryan was in ear shot, my own pleas for order in my seventh period class, all of the inside jokes, all of the memories, all of the happiness, brotherhood, joy, and grace. Even in the dead of night, God will not let me have campus to myself. He forces me to recall the entirety of my life as a Brophy Bronco during those quiet moments.

Campus is never really dead and that fills my heart with joy.
Campus is never really dead and that fills my heart with sadness.

In the quiet of night, amidst the memories, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the campus is still well. This campus does not need me. I am nothing but a single teacher and alumnus that taught for a single year, teaching a single class. Next year will happen, and I will scarcely be referenced, seldom remembered, and my lasting footprint will be minimal. It does not cause me despair though, because that means that the school I love so much will be unaffected by changing times, shifting secular values, or the sin of apathy. This school will be here for my future sons, and hopefully theirs’; waiting to immerse them into the same holy community that enveloped me eight years ago.

In a single year:
I have gotten into my top choice medical school
I have grown to truly appreciate the art of teaching
I have learned that I love working with young people
I have learned what it is like to have a “real” job
I have found patience
I have found grace
I have found love
I have found God.

I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Signing out for the last time,

Sam Martin ‘09

 

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