Over a year ago, you and our mutual friend, Jennifer, asked me to visit UCONN to work with student teachers on building digital reflections for professional portfolios after they experienced a field placement. I didn't know it then, but a few months later you would apply to be a colleague with me at Fairfield University and, as luck would have it, would be given the office directly next to mine (where we can share toys, games, silliness, a glass of wine here and there, and academic texts!).
For the last year, too, I've seen you as a variant shadow/memory of my own self during my first year at Fairfield University (it is a blur, this pace we keep). Like a ram, I charged forth head down in order to finish my work at Syracuse and that is exactly what you've been doing at Connecticut. You have hunkered down, devoted yourself, and been focused, energetic and efficient with your time. Today, however, it culminates with your defense and I am thinking of you with all the support I can muster. I which I could stand directly next to Dr. Doug Kaufmann to share pride with him today for what you've accomplished.
This is where UCONN goes 3 for 3. Men's team, Women's team, and the literacy team.
At 10 a.m. today, you will set forth to discuss what you've passionately set out to do - a much needed, up-to-date exploration of writing workshops in elementary classrooms with all the twists of your expertise, analysis, theoretical perspectives, and knowledge in the field.
I wish you the BEST today and know in the deepest core of my being that you will rock every second of the defense. Embrace every second of it for the joy that it is.
Working with you this last year has been an absolute pleasure and I feel fortunate to have you as a colleague. I know that together, with our colleague Dr. Emily Smith, we really have the pre-K-12 spectrum covered. Yes, the two of us are early career in academic terms, but we have years and years of practitioner experience to draw upon and we will use this to push forth and advocate for student and teacher writers in the state.
I admire all that you are doing. You have proven your ability to juggle tremendous responsibilities in this first year as a scholar, teacher, leader, and family man. Your wit, creatively, energy, intelligence, and craft are greatly appreciated and I know, THIS is just the beginning.
And so I am looking forward to hearing the details from your day (and will wait patiently by the email/phone to hear how it went. Your work is IMPORTANT work, and it is only the beginning of the Ryan and Bryan (and Emily, it doesn't rhyme) collaborative...aligning literacy expertise along the Connecticut shoreline.
WE ARE PROUD OF YOU. I am carrying many poems in my pocket.
Go get 'em.