A Sarine Thought… or Two

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

And They’re Off…

It is hard to believe that another summer has come and gone. The school supplies have been purchased and soon, students and parents will meet the new teacher(s) who will be the main educational influence in their lives for the next nine months. It is thrilling for some, terrifying for others, but good for all. It’s time to go back to school.

When Jack started kindergarten, my focus was solely on him throughout each day. Would he love school? Would he hate it? Would he make sweet friends? Would he be able to make it for seven whole hours without seeing my face? Would he be able to find the cafeteria? Would he be able to open his Capri Sun (those can be tricky, you know!)? Would he love his teacher? Would he love her more than he loved me? Obviously, I was having some serious separation anxiety!

Of course, my worrying was all for naught. He had a great kindergarten year and sailed through with flying colors. To my knowledge, there weren’t any Capri Sun mishaps worth remembering. School, while an adjustment at first, was a place he could, and continues even now, to thrive as a student, friend and human.

As the years have come and gone, I have gotten to know some of the superheroes (a.k.a. teachers, coaches and administrators) who have guided him through his educational adventures. In that time, my focus has shifted to them during this back-to-school time of year. I have realized the magnitude of each beginning and end for these special people. Every year, teachers welcome a new group of students into their classrooms. They get to know each child, including their learning styles, their senses of humor, their insecurities, their quirks, their strengths and their weaknesses. They open their hearts to them and pour every ounce of energy they have into guiding and helping students to not only learn necessary skills, but how to use them effectively, efficiently and contextually. They are the primary adult presence in the lives of their students for a large portion of every weekday. Our kids are safely in their care day in and day out for months on end. Then, just like that, the students they have poured their hearts into, transition into former students at the sound of that last bell in late May. Teachers must let this group of young people, who they’ve allowed themselves to love as their own, move on to another teacher’s classroom and care. They hand them over to a new teacher who doesn’t know them yet, one who may not realize that even though these young people can act like buffoons, they are fantastic kids who are going to do great things in the world! Then, in about three months, the cycle starts all over again.

I can still remember some of my own teachers and the impact they had on my life. Usually when I recall them, though, it has nothing to do with the actual academic lessons they taught me. I remember how they made me feel while I was in their classroom. Some I remember fondly because they helped me to realize my full potential by pushing me and encouraging me to keep trying until I got the correct answer or outcome. Others I remember less fondly because they had the undesirable task of having to humble me when I thought I knew more than they did. Some I remember because they did both over the course of our time together. But all were exactly who I needed in each situation.

What those who educate our children do is more than a job. It is more than a career. It is a calling.

As we embark upon a new school year and all the feelings, adventures and lessons that will come with it, teachers, remember these truths: you are seen; you are admired; you are prayed for; you are able; and you are ready to take up the mantle of educator for each student who comes in your door. Even though those students will try your patience and might make you want to pull your hair out, they will also allow you the privilege of seeing growth, learning and the realization of their potential as they take in what you’re teaching them each day. They are yours, and you are theirs, not only for this school year, but for the rest of their lives.

Here’s to making this school year one full of learning, laughter, love, and leaving no doubt that, whether you’re a student or a teacher, your best was given every time you walked into the classroom.


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