Behind the Generosity by Ethan Pennington

As part of our study of the memoir A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, I took my students to the United Nations Headquarters to learn about the role it served in resolving the conflict in Sierra Leone and rehabilitating child soldiers like Ishmael Beah. In the General Assembly our tour guide pointed out the two enormous abstract paintings that frame both sides of the room. She explained how the art reminds the member countries that they all interpret events differently just as they all interpret art differently. Ultimately, they are all there to hear each other’s interpretations and work together.

Stepping into the Hort Family Gallery, where we celebrated York Prep’s 50th anniversary last week, I felt like a student trying to form my own interpretation of the colors of the paintings on the walls, and by the shapes of the sculptures staring back at me. As I listened to Peter Hort, Class of 2022 student Sam Hort’s father, tell the stories of the various paintings and sculptures in the Hort family’s private collection, I felt like I was hearing my English professor in college unveiling the entire worlds inside of Shakespeare plays that I had not yet unveiled myself.

Teaching literature is a similar process. The most rewarding aspect of teaching literature, for me, is helping students to develop confidence in their interpretations of it. Once students apply the lenses we model for them and recognize the overall structures and patterns, they learn how to trust their own interpretations again and take the risk of voicing them.

Please become a part of this process by contributing to The York Prep Foundation. Help York continue to build bridges of meaning between our students and the world, as the Horts so generously helped us do during an amazing evening.

Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the York Prep School Foundation by clicking here.