I switched jobs this past year. I stepped down as Artistic Director of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School so I could move back home to Illinois and become an English teacher.

I’ve been pretty quiet about my new job, mostly because what my former colleagues/students have been going through at CVPA. A former student entered their building with a gun and shot and killed a student and a staff member. Tried to kill more, but luckily the active shooter protocols worked well to delay him before the police got there and killed him.


I feel like I can’t go on blogging without writing and acknowledging this. I cried a lot. I screamed when the press release said the shooter’s name. I went to a balloon release and hugged a million people. I went through some depression and numb periods. Five days after this horrible tragedy, I was a best man at one of my best friend’s wedding. Two weeks after that, he was a best man at my wedding. I wished I had had time to go to more CVPA vigils and memorials, but I just didn’t with the two weddings. I feel guilty about that, even though I know there’s nothing I could do. Emotions were all over the map.


I wasn’t at CVPA during the horrible day, and I’ve tried not to push my feelings publicly much at all because I don’t want to insert myself in the narrative in any way. Even though I’m writing about this now (more in support and love for the students/staff than anything), this is not my story and I want to make that clear. I can’t imagine what the students/staff who were there... I can’t even finish that sentence. There were true heroes at work that day. None the least is the staff member who died. She was a very kind person, big heart. Loved what she did, did it all for the benefit of her students.

I have so many more things I could say, but I really don’t want to because it’s not my story. I wasn’t there. My suggestion to anyone who wants more insight is to look to the students. See their art and performances. Support them. Their voices are the key to the restoration of that community.


CVPA students and staff, you are loved and didn’t deserve this. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through. My heart has been constantly there. This does not define you. I cannot wait to see you on stage, when you’re ready. This is your space, and nobody can take it from you.


I mentioned that I’ve been quiet about my new job, mostly because I don’t want to be insensitive to my former one. Things have been going really well for me there. Teaching is the best. I really love it. I put on mini-performances and make students laugh all day. Also, I can REALLY tell that my students are getting more intelligent. I feel the difference I’m making. It’s great. One of my student’s mothers brought me pumpkin muffins to parent/teacher conferences. I had a student sing a poem on my first week of class. Bonfires and football games, plays and homecomings. I might do another blog about this sometime. I guess I’ll end with that I love my students. They are hilarious. Students who took my one-semester class last semester have barged in during my lunch to tell me that they miss me. One student drew me. Some have written me letters of how they enjoy my class. One went and told my boss that I’m the first teacher they feel they’ve really enjoyed reading with. So, my new job is going well for me. Just busy all the time.


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