A new “leader letter” from Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s office landed in my inbox recently. Let’s just say I was intrigued by its contents.
In the letter, someone from Johnson’s office (I am guessing she doesn’t write these letters herself…) asks those of us who will interact with kids on the first day of school—Monday, August 25—to dress in college or career garb, in order to inspire students to become college and career ready. Or to help them have a good giggle on the first day of school, at the sight of a bunch of adults standing around in their ratty old college sweatshirts, waxing on about career readiness—I’m not sure now.
Anyway, this got me thinking. What, from the myriad of possibilities, could I wear to represent myself and inspire the schoolkids I will encounter? My own kids are used to seeing me in a t-shirt and an old pair of jeans (which just screams “freelance writer”), and I’m pretty sure it is not what I wear that they find inspirational about me (stop—don’t say it…).
First, I will be honest. I do not have any apparel from any of the various colleges I went to. I am not sure if the old General College at the University of Minnesota, where I went to reclaim my potential after some disappointing high school grades, ever had its name splashed across t-shirts, but if it did, I never had one.
I also don’t own anything from the University of Rhode Island, where I ended up after taking a year off of college (I think I wanted to be a marine biologist?). Good old URI was a nice landing place for me, where I fomented some of my rebellious tendencies and made lots of great car trips to New York City and Boston, but no clothing memorabilia from these days survives.
Oh, wait! My high school-aged student does own a t-shirt that I brought back to my dad from my year as an Irish college student. Maybe I could reclaim it for the first day of school, in order to inspire youngsters to do as I did, and take a yearlong course built around translating Early Irish myths and old Welsh songs. (I know—what? But it was a good cover, as it temporarily justified my time in Dublin).
Enough about college–I am wondering what kind of career gear will be a welcome inspiration for our Minneapolis Public Schools students.
Will a McDonald’s uniform suffice? How about a construction worker’s shirt? An overnight home care attendant’s scrubs? Or an unemployment benefits stub? Maybe a list of all the places where a parent has applied for a job, stapled elegantly to the one good work shirt that gets worn to interviews?
Which self is best represented in career clothing? The immigrant day laborer? Parent? Daycare worker? Busker, farmer, or—dare I say it–teacher? What about the less-polished look of a Legal Aid attorney, who works to combat mortgage fraud?
Maybe we should all just show up naked on the first day of school, and start this whole thing all over again.