Fits of Passion
When I was in 9th grade, I lived in Montecito, CA and attended a small private day school. There were 9 kids in my class. Our annual field trip was driving out in a van to camp in Bryce and Zion Canyons in Utah. Our chaperone and driver was my English teacher, Mizz Cathy Rose. “Mizz” was spelled with a double Z because Mizz Rose wanted to be very clear that she would never be a MRS. She had short, brown wavy hair and dressed in a no-nonsense style, usually wearing slacks and a simple cotton shirt. She held a strong command of our classroom and demanded our attention and respect from the very first day. I would say that I had a mixture of admiration and fear in her presence. This somehow made me want to do my very best.
As she drove us through the desert, en route to Las Vegas, she suddenly careened off the road into the breakdown lane screaming, Enceliopsis argophylla! Enceliopsis argophylla! I had no idea what she was saying or looking at. She stopped the van and ran into the desert dropping to her knees in front of a little yellow flower. There was silence in the van as we looked at her out there kneeling in the desert. Had this woman who maintained such structure and order in our English classroom finally gone mad? Had our chaperone lost control of her senses and left us in the middle of the desert somewhere outside of Vegas?
I decided to get out of the van and see what she was so excited about. Walking out across the dried earth I saw it. It was a cluster of yellow flowers about 2 feet tall. They looked a bit like small sunflowers with silvery leaves. The flower is commonly known as the Silverleaf Sunray. Apparently she loved this endangered flower. In that moment she taught me about expressing passion for what you love in front of your students. Pulling over on that highway and kneeling in front of those flowers was an action beyond thought. She just had to.
I will never forget Mizz Rose’s fit of passion. I will also never forget the Latin name “Enceliopsis argophylla”. They say adrenaline reinforces memory. Witnessing my teacher’s passion for a simple flower taught me how important it is to uninhibitedly demonstrate your passion to your students. It is infectious and will stay with them for a lifetime. Many years later, I received a hand written letter from Mizz Rose. It had been forwarded several times. She had been curious to know what had become of me...or who I had become. This was the deepest compliment and a testament to her passion for her students.
Until next time, reveal your passion even for the simplest thing. In doing so, you might liberate others to do the same. CREATE.
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