KnitWits!

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In my quest to order my life, I came across some materials still in my possession that I cannot let go of.

I remember well the craze and return to knitting with delight, it was so much fun seeing students in the halls of New Trier with knitting needles. It was great to see something that we, perhaps, all had thought would just disappear, return with a true vengeance. It was also nice because in this period of Technology when you think human beings have no interest in anything not electronic, that the knitting needles would be picked up.

I remember walking in the halls during my required ‘hall duty,’ and seeing students at work. New Trier is one of those odd places that did not have a hall pass situation and students were able to be in the halls as long as they were not disturbing classes. Teachers were required, unless they had procured a next to impossible dispensation, to spend a period walking the halls. We would usually find a student desk and sit down in an area where we could monitor the entire hall, and move around to deal with issues if they might occur. As much as I hated hall duty, I realize what a good thing it was, forcing communication with students and yet allowing them the freedom of being in the halls. I remember as well, that more often than not, it turned into an office hour where students would come by and ask questions and get help, another good by-product. My only complaint was that I always thought that administrators should have a hall duty, putting them into better touch with students and also being able to relate to what we regular teachers went through on a daily basis. That idea was bandied around and shut down, as so many other good ideas.

Anyway, one day I was walking in the halls, I can still remember it clearly, all near my office as I was doing hall duty, and speaking to several students who were knitting. I asked them if they had a club, since New Trier had more clubs than any other place I know. If students had an idea, it was possible to have a club after jumping through some simple, administrative hoops.

So I was talking to the students, I did not know them personally at the time, since they were not in my classes, and asked them if they had a club. They said that they wanted one, but could not find a sponsor. I said to them, “Fill out the paperwork and put my name down as your sponsor. Once we get going, I am sure we will be able to find someone to fill in for me since I have no knitting experience.” They agreed, did so, and we started meeting. The meetings started out right away with students and little by little, built up momentum. The students brought snacks, things to drink, music, and the conversation was always witty and fun. I remember bringing work to do and then I even tried to knit. My knitting was not a success but it helped me to relate to what they were doing. The club was, in my estimate, the perfect club, an adult sponsor sitting by while the students were allowed to build the club they wanted.

I am still in touch with several of the knitters, not so much in a consistent way, but on Facebook. One of them, a guy named Stephen West, has been very successful in knitting and has his own business because of it. I loved the meetings because they were so unbelievably inclusive, girls, boys, a faculty member here and there, all coming to knit, talk, and have fun in a very non-judgmental situation. The officers of the club were absolutely amazing. The President, Emily Dallmeyer, from what I can see on Facebook, is a Research Assistant at the University of North Carolina and an Intern Architect. She is also an accomplished Artist from what I can see on her website.

I cannot remember how long I was sponsor of the KnitWits, as the kids decided to call the club. I do remember that it was a while since no teachers would step forward, a very unusual thing at the school. The club went from a few students here and there to being very popular. The popularity went so far as to have a person writing a knitting book contacting me and interviewing me. My quote went in the actual book. It was during this popularity that people started coming out of the woodwork and asking to be the sponsor. I had been at it for so long and had taken them (I really did no work hard at it, it was all the students’ work!) from a quiet club to a large meeting that was very popular. I stayed on, therefore, until I retired in 2007. I see that it is still a club, but no longer has the name or the cute logo that was student designed. It is fascinating how indispensable we think we are and how despite it all, traces of us get erased. My memories of this great group will never be erased. It was a total surprise, a whimsical meeting of people that added a fabulous dimension to my life, and one I will forever be grateful for.

About Richard Koerner

Sixty something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
This entry was posted in Interpersonal Relations, Knitting, Life in general, People and their characteristics, Students, Thoughts and philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

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