By Bruce Stambaugh
It seems like I just can’t get away from it. Retired from my career in education 18 years, butterflies still tickle my tummy this time of year.
From pre-school through college, the school year either has or is about to start for thousands upon thousands of students. Emotions can run high for everyone.
I remember those days all too well.
As a student, I always got excited about the start of another school year. I couldn’t wait until the class lists were posted a week or so before the fall term began. We never knew exactly when those blue-inked mimeographed lists would show up on the glass doors of the Edgefield School. Often times we depended on another student finding out and spreading the word.
Once posted, I hustled down Harrison Ave., turned left on 38th Street, and climbed those foreboding cement steps to the double glass doors of the three-story brick school building. Besides wanting to know who my teacher was, it was more important to me to know who my classmates were. Friendships in youth are critical.
My grandchildren didn’t have to run to the school to discover who their new teacher was. The principal sent a letter to each pupil. However, because of privacy reasons, they’ll have to wait until the first day of school to learn whom they will spend the next nine months with learning their lessons.
Talk about nerves. I’ve already heard some chatter about hoping so and so is in their class. Of course, once everyone gets their letters, I suppose most will know before school begins.
Though they might not admit it, I think the older the students get, the more nervous they are. With required proficiency tests in every state, there’s a lot of pressure on students to do well for themselves, their class, their school, and their district.
That’s likely the last thing on a freshman’s mind. No matter how big or small the school, peer pressure cuts across every aspect of today’s teenage life. I wouldn’t want to ever go back to those uncertain years.
The beginning of another academic year runs the gambit of emotion for parents, too. They’re glad to have the kids back on some predictable routine and some much needed free time for themselves. Some parents are just downright relieved that school is back in session. And yet, they’ve enjoyed the time with their offspring over the summer months.
School supplies have to be purchased, along with school clothes, and arranging for childcare if both parents happen to be working the same shifts. Finding dependable, safe situations can be stressful if not expensive.
Even us grandparents feel the tension of the start of school. Wanting to help as much as possible and in any way can, we seniors like to stay abreast of what all the grandkids are doing, and how we can assist the parents. Cries for help often come at the last minute.
Good teachers, of course, have long been readying for this first day. I’ve seen their cars parked at the local schools all summer long, just the way I did when I was a principal. That doesn’t mean they won’t get those butterflies in their stomachs. Even the veteran’s do that. The same goes for bus drivers, custodians, cooks, secretaries, and all other staff members.
So whether it’s sending your first child to school for a full day of learning or whether you’re a seventh grader who can’t locate your assigned locker, take heart. You are not alone. Everyone else is either excited or anxious, too.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2017