Most school districts in my area have started the new school year by now—and this time of year always makes me reflective about the first day of school and what it can mean for the kids I see waiting at the bus stops when I drive to work every day.
I loved school when I was a kid. I looked forward to that first day as a time to wear a brand new outfit, find out who would be in my class, figure out which teachers were nice and which ones might be mean, and finally start using the new school supplies that I’d been hoarding.
In college, I loved that first week on campus–reconnecting with friends (this was before cell phones, texting, and even email—we actually WROTE LETTERS to keep in touch over the summer!), buying fresh textbooks, and settling back into the freedom of college life.
When I began teaching, I always looked forward to the first day of school with the students—because, of course, teachers actually have two “first days”: the first day of faculty meetings (which always seemed to go on forever), and then the first day when the kids come back. I was always so excited to meet my new students, to start figuring out what the personality of each class would be, diving into the curriculum—and yes, to once again finally start using the new school supplies that I’d been collecting all summer!
Now, even though I’m no longer working in the school system, I still think about the first day of school when I drive to work on these August mornings and see the kids waiting at the bus stops–brand new backpacks on their shoulders, fresh sneakers on their feet–and a totally empty slate.
The first day of school is packed with endless possibilities: Will this be the year with the teacher who creates that spark? Will this be the year when that kid finds a book that he loves? Will this be the year when it all finally clicks? Will this be the year that sets the tone of success for that child?
These are the questions that I ask myself as I pass the bus stops. It’s a nice way to begin my mornings. I hope each of the children I pass will be enjoying their mornings, too.