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Salt Lake City, Utah, US: A Poem about New Beginnings

Ben Tillotson is the first educator on the left

In 2021, Global Education Allies explored new places in the Southwestern and Southeastern United States, as well as Puerto Rico. Of the various themes and lessons learned from these regions, a common theme stands out to me, our ability to adapt to the ever changing world around us. As a special educator, I am constantly adapting my practice based on the individual needs of my students. Oftentimes this requires me to let go of old practices that are no longer meeting the needs of the students and embrace new strategies. While thinking about this I wrote the following parable entitled, Sandcastles.

There once was a boy who liked to build sandcastles.

They started out small but became more complex.

The boy learned how to make them stand taller and last longer.

Yet try as he might, they all eventually crumbled.

Eventually the boy made the best sandcastle he had ever made.

Wanting to preserve it, he built a large moat around it for protection.

He placed rocks around the moat as an extra layer of defense against the waves.

Then the unexpected happened…it rained.

His greatest achievement didn’t stand a chance.

Defeated and broken-hearted, the boy ran under the umbrella to his mother.

“I just wanted one sandcastle to last.” He wept. “Just one.”

His mother gently wiped his tears and wrapped her arms around him.

“My son, perhaps you were meant to build something more than sandcastles.

Perhaps you will build real castles one day.

If these sandcastles always stayed, you would never know how to build something new.”

With tear-streaked cheeks the boy stared back at his fallen masterpiece.

His mother pulled him tighter and whispered gently into his ear,

“Sometimes things need to end for something new to begin.”

The boy hugged his mother, “I like beginnings a lot more than endings.”

“Me too,” she said with a smile.

As the boy ran back out into the rain he jumped on his former masterpiece with glee.

“Let’s build something new Mama!”

As I look forward to a new year, I want to be grateful for the experiences that taught us more about ourselves and the world. I’ll try, with the excitement of a child, to let go of the past and walk boldly into the future. Wishing you and yours exciting new adventures in 2022!

Ben Tillotson teaches special education transition in Salt Lake City School District with an M.Ed. in Special Education and his ESL Endorsement. He enjoys volunteering with many educational non-profits in Utah including hosting international ambassadors traveling to learn about Disability Rights in the United States. Ben is GEA’s former participant coordinator.

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