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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The New Year, Or Mid-Year?

This evening's Blog is an odd reflection on one of the unusual experiences of working as an educator.

We have recently marked the arrival of a new year. At this writing, we've just turned another page of the calendar to welcome February. Time marches onward. The school year is moving along at a brisk pace.

For all but the first five years of my life, the "year" has been measured as the time from September through June - the school year. I have followed that familiar rhythm and scope from kindergarten through 12th grade, then directly to college and a teaching position immediately after graduation, and through an administrative career including graduate work ending in a doctorate. That is an uninterrupted stream of over five decades. The benchmarks along the annual trek begin with the back-to-school sales and Labor Day, run through the traditional holidays, refresh at the Christmas break, the Winter break and the Spring break, with a pause at Memorial weekend before concluding with exams as the 4th of July nears. The process of flipping pages of the school calendar has repeated itself for 53 years now.

At times it can be confusing when conversing with someone outside of the educational field. They mention "last year" and it means the January through December year in accord with a single number, such as 2011. I speak of last year and it references the hyphenated number 2010-2011, from September through June. Similarly, "next year" begins in September when learners resume their studies after a summer hibernation.

Additionally, since the year for teachers is most often measured in ten month spans from September to June, the parameters of a year differ in our household. I work continuously through all twelve months without a summer break as a superintendent and my wife works the shorter year as a teacher. The distinction resembles the statement of George Bernard Shaw who claimed that, "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

Oh well. Enjoy the rest of your year.

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