Celebrating School

Checked out the Littleton Public Schools calendar this morning.  It’s true.  Summer is officially over and the kids are back on their buses and in moms’ cars heading to school. A fresh new year full of hopes and visions of success.

As a kid, I loved going to school. Okay, true confessions of a nerd, I know, but think about how wonderful school was meant to be.  I had teachers that were putting structure in my otherwise crazy life.  There were readers and books and worksheets that at the beginning of the year looked absolutely daunting, but by the end, we’d gone through them all.  What an accomplishment for both the teachers and us students.

I loved my bright, new school clothes and the fresh box of crayons my mom always had for me.  When I “graduated” to using colored pencils and drawing maps instead of happy faced sunshines I felt so grown up.

And the teachers! My goodness.  They were there all the time to try to stuff our heads full of information, but just as often, to encourage us to frame problems and solve them by asking  big questions, like “what do you think was going on for people in the Civil War?” or “Can you write a whole report in French?” or “What do you mean, you forgot your homework again?”

Then I think of my children’s teachers, and as an adult I saw them as constantly under attack from circumstances and politics and endless forms of cover-your-arse kind of work.  There seemed to be less teaching and more herding of cats.  Yes, I was aware of the less than stellar quality of some of them.  One teacher seemed to have a “headache” for more than half a school year.  I never heard that there was anything seriously wrong, but really, a teacher with a headache more than half the time has something seriously wrong. But for the most part, I still saw them as hard-working, wonderfully creative people who encouraged my daughters to be the best students they could.

And I think of the special needs teachers. What heroes they were!  IEPs or Individual Educational Programs had to be set for each child in their classrooms of anywhere from ten to fifteen kids.  These IEPs that I went through as a parent were exhausting.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to do it fifteen times over in the first quarter of the school year. Amazing!

I see moms now who admit that they’re very glad when school starts and the “I’m-bored-there’s-nothing-to-do” stops echoing across the walls of the house. I think the card companies are missing an opportunity– can’t you see sending friends congratulatory notes when the school year begins? So much opportunity for humor there.

Ah school.  When the topic comes up in the news, it’s usually because something has gone terribly wrong–bullying leading to Columbine shootings, a kid seduced by a teacher/pedophile, a valedictorian refused her diploma because she used the word “hell” in her speech to classmates.

What we as parents need to remember is that these news items are just that.  Single incidents out of the millions of good deeds done in schools by students, teachers and administrators.  Oddities.  Let’s dive back into the school year with enthusiasm, hope and a few good reads to look forward to.

Think I’ll go find my set of Arthur Books and celebrate school today. How ’bout you?

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