By Mrs. Pankow
Welcome back! As the June recipient of the torch, I would just like to say how honored I am to have been nominated by Ms. Uddin, a young teacher for whom I have such an immense amount of respect — both professionally and personally. And to everyone who took the time to reach out to me in the halls or via email, thank you. Your kind words were a balm to the weary soul that was me last school year.
Before I reveal the news you have all been waiting for, I just want to say that while we all know that our school’s torch is an acronym for:
Trying your best,
Others are important,
Respect for yourself and others,
Caring for yourself and others,
Honesty in all you do –
I have always thought of a torch as being symbolic of the transmission of good things: knowledge, the Olympic spirit, light to the darkness, etc.
So with this in mind, I would like to pass the torch to Dr. Redmond, and name him as the September 2022 torch recipient.
Dr. Redmond is a true-torch bearer in that he exemplifies the continual pursuit of knowledge. When I chaperoned an overnight Model UN Conference with Dr. Redmond, he always had a book with him to read during down-moments; I think it was about politics (Shocker) – and he highlighted it too! When Dr. Redmond went to Rwanda, he shared his experience with the faculty – so that we too could learn about the evils and consequences of colonialism and the power and ways of reconciliation.
When he began to perceive that we were all swimming in a polluted information eco-system that is imperiling our ability to make quality decisions (a central tenet of a functioning democratic republic), he wrote a book about critical thinking and how we landed ourselves in such a factionalized political climate. He advises Political Forum and Model UN, clubs that help students learn how to discuss divisive issues in a civilized, collegial manner. Rather than hand-wringing about the damaged world in which we live – he embodies action. My esteemed and retired colleague John Kyrder once said to me, “Good teaching boils down to one critical decision – are you going to choose hope or despair”. Dr. Redmond chooses hope. Everyday.
Dr. Redmond is also a true torch bearer in that he wittingly or unwittingly brings light to the darkness. Many moons ago, we had a faculty book group as part of the “East University” Initiative, or “Halycon Days” as Dr. Redmond has called them. Dr. Redmond suggested that we read The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer, set up a reading schedule (did the paperwork for extra hours), and then started us off on an enlightening discussion about what we could do to navigate the economic gaps in our world. Dr. Redmond started Project Green as the result of conversations with students and parents. I remember running into Dr. Redmond at the Taj Grill in North Buffalo; he was there hosting guest speakers for a conference he had put together on understanding the forces that give rise to genocides and the consequences of genocide (I was there for the buffet). A moving mantra for Dr. Redmond might as well be: while we might not be able to do everything to better the world, we can always do something.
As with any great teacher and better person, there is always so much to say, so I am confining myself to a few examples, but please join me in digitally clapping for a person who metaphorically lifts the torch high every day, but will receive a literal torch in the faculty meeting today.
Thanks for your time.