I started writing Omissions after a real-life examination of my faculty bio on my school’s website midyear into a new teaching position. My sixth-grade students were to profile a faculty member of their choice, but first they had to study the person’s bio on the school’s website. I asked them to do their homework before interviewing their subject. I explained basic information, like college degree and hobbies, would likely be in the entry in the online directory. I walked them through the assignment, projecting staff profiles on the classroom screen. As we looked at the bios together, some were lengthy with educational jargon or concepts that confused students. Others were brief and contrasted greatly with the person’s length of service with the organization.
Later, I thought about all the presentation that goes into sharing who you are, especially on a private school’s website, and what’s omitted. Do families care if you knit? Ski or snowboard? Ride horses? Shouldn’t all educators read widely and voraciously?
After writing Omissions, I did go back and revise my faculty bio on the school’s website, taking out some of the adult-teachery stuff to reveal a little about who I was in middle school. I thought it was important to reference my awkward middle school moments and dreams in that bio.
What happened to my family is tragic, but far from unique. I wanted to remove the mask of presentability while crafting Omissions. This is the entry that will never get posted in the faculty directory; however, it is a love letter to my career, the life I’ve built, the grief I carry, and the renewal I’ve been able to assemble at a nurturing little place in the mountains.
Read the essay in The Brooklyn Review here: Spring 2022 TBR