It’s my 51st “day before school starts” and we’ll be holding our 33rd annual Back-to-school party later today. We began this tradition our first year in our house: before we had children, throughout their time in school, and this year our grandson joins us… though it’ll be a few years before he heads off to school.
Many of my teaching colleagues are planning their “To Hell with the Bell” celebrations for tomorrow, having chosen to retire from education. I see their posts in Facebook and their pictures on Twitter. And I’m thinking about the fact that I feel not one bit of envy.
My sleepless nights this past week have not been sleepless from worry, but from anticipation. Have I remembered all the details that will make the first day of school run smoothly? Have I reminded my VPs, who are both new to our school, about those practices that we’ve put in place over my four years at Brampton Centennial SS? Will my new teachers and new students feel welcome, safe and excited?
Our custodial team has been working at full speed, making up for the shorter summer they had due to Summer School this year. They do an amazing job, though the shiny terrazzo floors will soon be dulled by the 1300 pairs of student feet.
We are welcoming two new inclusion classes, and their staff and students will be a joining our current class to integrate developmentally delayed students into life as a “Buck”. This is a new adventure for them, and for our BCSS community.
We’ve hired a wonderful group of new contract and LTO (Long Term Occasional) teachers, and their “fresh eyes” on Brampton Centennial SS will be valuable to me. They’ll question our routines, suggest new ways of doing things, and then choose the best of BCSS’s traditions to include in their practice.
That’s not to say that our existing staff aren’t also trying out new things. We’re going to experiment by having one teacher instruct ALL the classes of particular classes. And we’re doing the opposite by having teachers share sections of some courses that have traditionally been taught by only one teacher.
Fifty-one years ago I experienced this same excitement. There is a picture of me in ankle socks, Mary-Jane shoes, and a white dress with tiny cherries on it, holding an apple for my teacher. What isn’t shown is that while my father returned his camera to the house, I joined a group of older students who were returning to school after lunch at home, and headed off to Kindergarten on my own. When I arrived, I peered into the window of the room where we had registered in the spring. A kind lady came out, asked my name, and escorted me around the school to join my new class. I can’t imagine how my parents felt when I disappeared, but I was thrilled to begin my life as a student.
And that sense of excitement is still here!