Once the back to school sales begin, the remnants of an old melancholy feeling start to bubble up. Sending my kids back to school was never something that made me happy. It served as an end to carefree days and late evenings, to swimming, camping and playing but more than anything it served as a marker that another precious year had passed….
It is fitting that I now work in schools and get to experience “The First Day of School” with hundreds of students and parents every year. I love to watch the first kids get off the bus, their backpacks bulging with hand sanitizer, tissues, crayons and pencils. Big sisters helping little brothers find their classes. Moms and Dads struggling to hold back tears as they take their first or last child to school for the first day. The warm welcome that they all receive as they walk through the halls. Teachers wearing big smiles and sharing hugs in newly decorated rooms. (did you know that EVERY year they have to totally breakdown and rebuild their classrooms?) Sparkling halls buffed to a shine by hardworking custodians. The smell of biscuits from the cafeteria. New pencils and crayons….
Did you ever stop and think that our public schools take on everyone? The best and the brightest, the physically, emotionally, mentally challenged, students who speak no English, who struggle to sit still or walk. They don’t discriminate. They face shrinking budgets and paychecks. They face ridiculous blanket standards such as “EVERY child will graduate with a College Prep degree, EVERY school will make sure that EVERY student make 100% on a test. They are constantly criticized and analyzed. But yet THEY still move on….
They move on, because they are filled with people who are passionate about what they do. People who take pride in their shiny floor, the food they prepare, the bus they drive, the lessons that they teach. Each school operating as a small city, presided over by a mayor and staff, who organize and orchestrate educating hundreds of students, prepare balanced healthy meals, safely transport yellow buses filled with noisy wiggly children, manage classroom behavior, continue professional development, supply special services, support classroom management and provide physical education and medical attention. They nurture and nudge, push and pull, listen and love.
For all the criticism that goes on against public schools, they continue their forward motion. Those that find it necessary to criticize and judge this amazing organization should spend a day, or better than that a week, walking the halls, serving in the cafeteria, riding a bus, sitting in on a meeting where dollars are stretched beyond imagination. Sit on the back row of any classroom, attend the many classes and meetings that teachers and staff attend to continue to grow and become better at what they do. I think the average person would be astounded at what goes on every single day inside of those big block buildings! The tide would turn, sentiments would change and demands would be made for more support for this incredible institution called “Public Education.”
So if you read this post and know a teacher, custodian, principal, counselor, administrative professional, food services employee, maintenance worker, technology specialist or anyone that works in education. Tell them you support and appreciate the important work that they do. Give them a hug, get involved, volunteer or better yet, some new crayons!
If you ARE a teacher, custodian, principal, administrator, maintenance worker, technology specialist, paraprofessional, food services worker or anyone who works in education, THANK YOU. You matter and what you do matters.