From the first time I wandered around Landmark’s high-school campus searching for Alexander (not a person but a building), to today, as I reflect on the infinite learning experiences for myself and those also in contact with the bold and driven team that is the Landmark Community, I have certainly grown into my multi-faceted role at Landmark School. This is not to say, however, that the growth was comfortable and natural for me. Rather, it was quite the contrary, which is the reason for my post.

Different people fall in love with Landmark for different reasons. For most, I believe, it is the sense of community inspired by the dedicated children, young adults, and adults who comprise it. For others, it is the beauty of the campus. Still others come back for the enjoyment of embodying their respected noble and dignified roles. While all three ring true in my mind, a fourth reason that would also explain my passion is the challenge.

Despite my lack of experience, as a teacher or otherwise, I feel qualified enough to say that moments when humans are confronted with an uncomfortable situation and consider backing down are the moments with the most potential for growth. Oftentimes, this explains why Landmark students are so resilient and mature. As a person, I try to embrace moments of discomfort in my life – when I feel disconnected from my comfort zone, or when I have no itinerary for a trip to a strange place. The anxiety that pulses through my veins, for better or for worse, reminds me that I am alive, much like Hemingway’s old man who holds onto the fishing line that cuts into his skin. He requires that pain to remind him that he has not yet died of exhaustion. Sure, it’s a romantic notion, but it inspires me nonetheless.

At least, I thought it was a romantic notion, until I began holding the fishing line at Landmark. Many of my colleagues are aware of the struggles that I have faced as I’ve grown professionally over the past two years at Landmark. At times, the learning curve was not kind to me. While there were skills that I did not need to review, there were more that I had to force myself to learn for the first time. But, in retrospect, those moments that I did not back down are the moments that catalyzed my personal growth and helped shape me into who I am today. The challenges that I faced at Landmark seemed more immediately threatening to me than any others I had faced before. But I overcame them, or am overcoming them, and as a result I understand more deeply what it is like to face frustration in an academic setting. What is important to understand is how this translates into sympathy for others that I work with, and work for, who are forced to grow when they do not want to. While the medium for growth is oftentimes distinct for different people, the exercise can be quite similar. The experiences have contributed to my ability to teach the many different kinds of lessons that I instruct – from reading literature and geometry to reading social situations – because they have brought me closer to the hard-working community that I serve. We all have experienced strife and have grown because of our resilience. That is what is special about the Landmark community.

While this post functions as a thank you to all of you supportive people who are still reading, it also is intended to perform as an anecdote that might remind you to embrace academic and/or professional challenges, for these are the moments that allow us to start to become the people we aspire to be. Always understand the meta-lesson behind your lengthy homework assignments, and always comprehend your disgruntled attitude as a reflex to an opportunity to achieve your personal and professional goals. Afterwards, in retrospect, you’ll recognize your growth.

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Submitted by Caleb Koufman, Landmark High School faculty member


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