Sidney A. Bulthuis
High School Math Instructor
Sidney A. Bulthuis...
philosophy of education through the story of a little peach tree
It was the summer of 2015, our second year at our new home, when my family began to contemplate getting a young tree for our yard... and to make a long story short, we decided that we would purchase a young peach tree, even though some had suggested that they had not had much luck with peach trees in the area.
Well, It was already June when we decided to purchase and plant our new little tree. We had gotten a really good deal on the tree as it was later in the season, and well, and many observed, my tree did not have any leaves left on him. That didn't stop me, as I was bound and determined that we had found our family tree.
Now, upon finding the ideal location for the tree and looking up the suggested fertilizer necessary, I began my summer adventure of pouring my love into this tree.
... I remember that July 4th day when gathering with a bunch of friends to celebrate, the conversation came up about peach trees. With glee, I jumped into the conversation letting everyone know that I too, had a peach tree. Upon hearing this, a friend and colleague of mine asked, "have you gotten any fruit on yours?" To this I answered quickly, "I haven't even got a leaf yet!" A statement in which he responded. Well, your tree is probably dead, and he lovingly reminded me that I could return it to get my money back.
I was crushed initially ... but decided that I was not ready to give up ... and instead was much more intentional about the care of this young tree of ours.
As August came, I was starting to think about how I would introduce myself to my class this upcoming year. What would I tell them that I did over the summer and how I would impart a bit of why I love being a teacher... And I had to think first of my peach tree...
I IMMEDIATELY REQUESTED THE SERVICES OF MY WIFE TO TAKE THIS PICTURE OF ME AND MY PEACH TREE WITH LITTLE OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. This would be the picture that I would share with my students.
You see... I grew to love this peach tree, even before it proved to be a peach tree. You see to many, it didn't look like more that a stick in the ground. But I saw so much more. I believed that I saw some life in those branches. I believed that others would see soon what I had seen all the time. Potential becoming reality.
Well. It was the last week of August, and after a hard rain, I went to walk around my grounds and see how soggy the ground was around my little tree. To my surprise, a green that is usually only found in spring growth was on this August Tree. My peach 'stick' had proved to be a TREE. It had leaves.
I BELIEVE in the potential of all my students. When I took that picture with my tree, I wanted to make a declaration to my students... regardless of what anyone says about my tree, I was not going to sell out! I was not going to cash in! I was going to give all that I had. That is the same way I want to be remembered as a teacher. I won't give up on my students. When others see just a stick, I see a tree.
Oh, and my peach tree. To many, it is just a tree. You see, until 2019, it had still never produced a peach. BUT, I never gave up. I saw a peach tree!
SUMMER 2017 - 3 BLOSSOMS - NO PEACHES
SUMMER 2018 - 18 BLOSSOMS - NO PEACHES but proved to be a home for a Finch nest
SUMMER 2019 - 30+ BLOSSOMS - 5 ripe peaches ... 3 tasted great, 1 not so much, and the final one may have
been eaten by a ground foraging neighborhood animal with only the pit remaining near the tree's base. A large branch fell off in a wind/thunderstorm and was harvested into a pen and a pencil and projects yet to be determined.
SUMMER 2020 - blossoms too numerous to count, but estimated at over 700. As of June 1st, it would appear that almost 50% have become “fruit of promise”. By the end of this season, there were to my best count 98 fruit that were able to be shared with friends and neighbors.
SUMMER 2021 - My peach tree had a rough start on the summer, two late frosts and cool temperatures that kept the natural pollinators from doing their job well. Still, as the summer remained rather hot and dry and I estimated and thought that 10 fruit would be a lofty goal, By season's end there were 15 fruit that I was able to enjoy and share with family.