I haven’t met a teacher yet who was drawn to the profession because of a passion for grading papers. Grading is the least rewarding part of my job, and I suspect that my students aren’t too crazy about my grading either. This past week the first big batch of essays came due in two of my classes, and I’ll admit to feeling a vague sense of dread. But then we were blessed with the most glorious weather in Chicagoland, and my schedule was such that for two consecutive afternoons I was able to slip away and grade papers in the most idyllic setting.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a favorite spot at Lake Ellyn Park in Glen Ellyn where I do most of my summertime reading, but the city is renovating the warming house by the lake and “my” bench is now in a “hard-hat area” closed to the public. So I headed west instead of east from campus and in fifteen minutes I was at Cantigny, a five-hundred-acre public park located on the former estate of the late Robert R. McCormick, long-time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The park has thirty acres of formal gardens, and in ambling around them I came across the gazebo below and immediately ensconced myself.
The gazebo contains three cushioned chairs and a small table, and I may start holding office hours there. Looking southeast from the gazebo affords a view of a small lake and fountain and the McCormick mansion beyond.
Looking southwest from the gazebo, the prospect feels less formal and more isolated:
I tried grading papers facing in each direction. Both views were glorious. The essays didn’t change, but my state of mind did. Thank you, Father!