Checking-In My Kids

Years ago I learned and taught alongside a close-knit group of students that became like family to me. In all, the moments before, and years since, I’ve never quite had the same almost magical connection with young people.

As a teacher-researcher, I am aware there are many things I will never be-able to recreate with other young people that lived so beautifully with these kids. I was much younger. I was with these young people only briefly, we all new this, filling a replacement contract, for only four life changing months.

I think about the brevity of our time together, like we each, the students and I, somehow deliberately sucked the marrow of learning from one another as if we understood we might never be about to find this sacred space again. And honestly. I don’t think we ever did. Any of us.

They are my ‘that group’ group. My kids. My kids by heart.

The late night calls and mid-day check ins. Coffee house conversations.

They have never paused. All these years hence.

Years and years later and they still push my thinking. Weave their way into the stories I share, weave their way into how I share, challenge my pedagogy, help me to think better, more, and differently with what being an educator ought to be, for me. Every. Every. Day.

All these years later, and they continue to check in. Each of them.

Recently, R emailed and checked in, like she randomly does. I checked-in replied, then asked if I might share most of her note to me and my reply to her here.

That group.

My kids by heart

(Shared with permission)

Date: March 25, 2018 at 2:48:55 AM MST

To: Cori Saas

Subject: Check in


Here’s a university struggle piece:

Be creative he said

I laughed at the thought

I laughed because

I couldn’t remember the last time I was

allowed to express my creativity

I love science, the methodology that lets me to perceive

Lets me understand and view the world differently

When I see a tree, I don’t just see a tree

I see the molecules, the chemical reactions

Down to the particles and

I see it’s place in the system

The impact on the whole

How what may just seem like a

tree is a whole lot more to the community

This understanding excited me

Pieces fit together like a puzzle

But where is the creativity?

Albert Einstein once said

“Imagination is more important

than knowledge. For knowledge is

limited, whereas imagination

embraces the entire world,

stimulating progress, giving birth

to evolution.”

But that’s not the science I know

The papers

The lab reports

The deadlines

-0.5 because the text isn’t


-2 because you messed up one significant figure out of 50

And better not even think about misplacing a table heading

Stifled by formatting

Wasting hours for nothing

Is this science?

Is it preparation for what awaits us?

Or is it just a strange system of torture?

It’s rough cause I don’t have time to edit my work anymore but I also

haven’t checked in in awhile.

I miss you



I’d like to say that I got your message in the morning. But you know that’s not so. You know I am awake. My own twitchiness at trying to settle things unjustifiable deep within my bones.

I kinda like that the need to justify doesn’t settle. For either of us.

Oh R, the degree journey: it really will mean something! The fidelity, the blandness, the rigger of this work. My climber of walls, the view from this rim comes with a deep sense of gratitude for those ropes, you know. And I am not expanding further. I know that you know. I know that you have known through all those backpacking adventures that were also filled with moments of dreaming about sciences. I know you know.

This gruellingly dull climb….It means something now though too.

Do you remember that last week we had together, all those years ago? When you came in to chat, just us. We sat on the tops of desks and you shared deeply of your experiences. Letting them come to sit there with us. I remember your strength in speaking them, in making them visible.

I think about how you have written and written and hiked and dashed and returned, how you have been broken and then found such healing. You. You did this. You. Your power, your words. Your body. Your wisdom. Your kindness. Your truths. Your way. Your time.

Your time.

R, your very life is light creative

I hiked in the mountains this morning, among rock and pine and always that light we know.

That light you know.

Hike my girl. Hike.

Love you always.


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