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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fifty-Seven First Days

This August 29th marked the fifty-seventh year I have readied myself for a first day of school. Since I enrolled in Kindergarten all those years ago I have sustained my connection to the school year from high school through college and a four decade professional career as an educator.

There is a rhythm to a school year. There is a clear beginning and a clear ending to the calendar, interrupted by regularly scheduled breaks for the winter holidays as well as the winter break in February and the customary week long break in April.

It is that clear beginning and definite ending that distinguishes work in public schools from work schedules outside of education. Rather than a continuous year (I realize there are fiscal years and reporting cycles as well as calendar years) that guides many other work areas, there is a specific starting point like the change of seasons in the calendar at which staff and students alike can start anew, with fresh hopes and goals. In that sense I would liken the first day of school to the first day of spring, when signs emerge of growth in the form blankets of grass covering lawns, trees sprouting bright green leaves, and colorful flowers pushing up above the ground.

Similarly, after a dormant two months, school comes alive. Learners pour out of busses, strolling up the sidewalk sporting new school clothes, their backpacks laden with school supplies, and their minds full of personal dreams and hopes.

The challenge of educators everywhere is to nurture and maintain that sense of optimism throughout the school year. The first few weeks of school have yielded sufficient evidence that the staff at Molly Stark Elementary School is prepared for that task. They have welcomed learners by embracing them with care, compassion, and commitment.

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