#1—Go get 'em, tiger!

Mr. David Perry

August 11, 2022

Welcome back, Tigers! I love this mascot and felt a connection to it for the first time when I jumped into the cab to leave for the airport for my flight to New Delhi:As I was about to drive away, my wife, who will join me soon, and my adult children, who will hopefully soon visit, proclaimed: Go get ‘em, tiger! Well, to be fair, maybe it was just my wife doing the proclaiming but nevertheless, heading down the highway, this funny old expression got me thinking about the AES mascot and how I was proud to be joining such a diverse community with members from different corners of the world probably also hopping into cabs to begin their own journeys to get to campus for this opening week. And while I have much to learn about the ethos of the AES Tiger, I do believe we can feel united in having braved (sometimes big) challenges to get here today. So let’s keep the momentum going and make it a fiercely fun and productive year together! Let’s go get 'em’!

On a more intellectual note, in a recent address to the faculty, as a means of introducing a bit about my philosophy of education but also in honor of what I believe is a tradition of poetry here at AES, I shared a poem. I love this poem so much that I decided I’d like to share it in this format so that it could circulate even more widely within the AES community. The poem is about new beginnings and is especially related to the new beginning that every academic year invites us all to embrace. 

Let Me Begin Again

By: Major Jackson

Let me begin again as a quiet thought

in the shape of a shell slowly examined

by a brown child on a beach at dawn

straining to see their future. Let me begin

this time knowing the drumming in my dreams

is me inheriting the earth, is morning

lighting up the rivers. Let me burn

my vanities: old music in the pines, sifters

of scotch, a day moon like a signature

of night. This time, let me circle

the island of my fears only once then

live like a raging waterfall and grow

a magnificent mustache. Let me not ever be

the birdcage or the serrated blade or

the empty season. Dear Glacier, Dear Sea

of Stars, Dear Leopards disintegrating

at the outer limits of our greed; soon we will

encounter you only in motivational tweets.

Reader, I should have married you sooner.

This time, let me not sleep like the prophet who

believes he’s seen infinity. Let me run

at break-neck speeds toward sceneries

of doubt. I have no more dress rehearsals

to attend. Look closer: I am licking my lips.

And so there it is, a poem about beginning again. I like this poem because I LOVE that schools offer us an opportunity to begin anew each year—gradebooks are empty, notebooks filled with blank pages, and the whiteboards and walls, bare—the year ahead is full of potential! Whether student, teacher, parent, or staff member, we have each just jumped into our own stories, and going forward, we each have the opportunity to craft whatever narrative we want to.

I also like this poem because it captures what I think are a couple key aspects of the AES Tiger spirit: “(R)un(ning) at break-neck speeds toward sceneries of doubt”—isn’t  a lot of learning at AES about being brave, even sometimes fierce, in tackling the unknowns? And again the Tiger spirit in “I am licking my lips.” Now this may be a projection on my part but when I think of tigers, I think of hunger! Isn’t a key aspect of the Tiger spirit about being hungry—for more learning, more community, more harmony on stage, more creative outlets, more sports victories, more connection. 

So Tigers, let’s go get ‘em! And I’d love to hear your thoughts along the way.