By BVP Parent, Tracey Dann

One mom. One campus. Twenty professors. Two high schools placements. Three middle schools placements. 20 courses. 60 credit hours. 560 hours commuting. 2 PRAXIS tests. Quizzes. Projects. Exams. Comps. Lit Reviews. 96 lesson plans and three children.

Its two years. I only need to survive. If I can get through tomorrow…

If I can get through this week…

If I can get through this project…

Then the moment finds you; a tipping point. The place where I think I can, I think I can, I think I can gives way to I think I did.

My moment occurred about two weeks before graduation. My grip released, my jaw relaxed and I realized the mountain was behind me. I survived and I grew in ways I could never imagine.

If I wrote a letter, what would I say to my twelve year old self? Nothing. I know she will make it because here she is thriving at forty-three. A better question is “What do I say to the twelve year old sitting in front of me?”

It is two weeks after my moment and I sit in my cap and gown waiting for my degree to be conferred. There, among my fellow student teachers, I begin to feel the weight. In one short breath, I will hear my name, walk across the stage, and shake hands. As I cross over from student to teacher, I understand it is my duty to pay forward this feeling of relief, of pride, of exaltation. I’ve climbed the mountain. I know the way.

Every student at every desk deserves this feeling.

My journey did not start with graduation. It started with a mother finding the time to read to her children every night. A father who, frustrated, wrestled through another night of homework. The steadfast support of grandparents picking up, dropping off and cheering on. The love of a sixth-grade teacher who still emails me every May after thirty years; or my eighth-grade teacher who follows all of her students on Facebook from her nursing home.

I am that teacher now. It will take a lifelong, marathon of dedicated love for my students. I sit in my chair in my cap and my gown and I pray I have it in me. I think I can.

I know that graduation is not the end of learning because learning itself is gradual. Each step, big or small, is planned, performed and punctuated with “I think you can.” Each smile, each handshake, each hand written note says “I think you can.” Each pattern I find, each assessment I make, each habit I push aside brings another in an endless series of I think you can.” Then I see the shift. I recognize the moment because it is my moment seen in the eyes of someone else.

Student Quote - 5.26.16

And I know I have chosen wisely.

As I sit writing tonight, like I have every night for two years, I know I can. My daughter says “Mommy, you graduated. I thought you were done” and I smile, “No sweetie. I am just getting started.”

This post is inspired by and dedicated to the amazing teachers at Blackstone Valley Prep who, every day, tell my children “I think you can.”


Ms. Dann is a parent to two BVP scholars. The BVP Community wishes her all the best as she moves forward with her career in education. Congratulations Ms. Dann! Ms. Dann is one of many parents (including Jennifer (Lynch) Morin – another BVP parent who graduated with Tracey from URI) and staff members throughout our community to recently graduate. To all our graduates, congratulations! This post is also featured on Tracey’s blog. For more posts from Tracey, click here.

Tracey Dann and Jessica Lynch Morin - 5.26.14

Tracey Dann & Jennifer (Lynch) Morin, BVP Moms on graduation day.

BVP Mom Graduation Cap - 5.26.16

Tracey’s Cap from graduation day.


ES1 and ES2 Grads - 5.26.16

Some BVP Staff graduates and friends: Nicole Hayes of Elementary School 1, friend Laura Biggins of the RI School for the Deaf, Jessica Grant, Rebekah Thibeault, and Sara Tucker of Elementary School 2.