In the early light, is there anything that holds more promise than a school building? Students arrive via bus or car or bike or foot, teachers too, all bringing a tangible energy, filled with all the opportunity in this day. I always smile driving up the hill to this grand building, the original section completed in 1928. I have spent nearly 3 decades working here, discussing story and craft and everything in between with students from 9th grade to 12th. This year that hopeful energy is even more palatable, because we are back full-time and in-person doing whatever is needed to keep our community safe, even graciously donning a mask. Heroes if you ask me as sacrifice has become the norm.
If you know a teacher or have a teacher friend or relative, or your kids are headed back to school, please, please, be extra kind to those in front of the class, virtual or otherwise. Teachers are venturing into unchartered territory, still, even after those long months last Spring and this summer and even now. This year teachers are remote or hybrid or in-person or some combination of all three, and they are training for these scenarios on the go, repairing the plane while they’re flying so to speak. They need your kind words. They need your continuing support. And everyone involved in this educational system, teachers and parents and students, need to foster resilience, in spades. We all have to be ready for everything and anything that might be coming our way. As we know it will crash on us. Wondering how might we survive?
All over my town kids are filing along side-walks, waiting for the school bus or walking to school. Rush hour starts up before it did a few weeks ago, and every one is on the go. I too am up and out far earlier than just a week ago, ready to meet and greet my almost 90 students. New sneakers and brightly colored garb and all the rest adorn the pre-K through 12 as they stroll about the hallways. But what about all those who are lost in-transition– between foster families– or disputing parents– or living in families who find the back to school basics too much for their budget? For those unable to purchase the items on the must-have-list, these first days are another struggle kids face as they walk into the classroom. Hey, why not consider helping? If you are no longer outfitting your own kids for school, hitting up the local supply store might be a fun trip down memory lane, giving you the opportunity to pick out pencil cases, spiral notebooks, bright highlighters, and all the rest students need. Create your own must haves for someone who can’t.
At my school, a backpack drive came together to support kids who come to school without the necessaries. A quick call to your local public school guidance office might help you locate a group that is doing the same in your neighborhood, and just like that you can make a huge impact. We popped in to the shop last Saturday and grabbed pencils and markers and highlighters and notebooks, and then added a water bottle and a smaller pouch to store valuables that could be easily accessed and removed. We made sure both backpacks were sturdy, and luckily found a store that offered an additional discount when we told them we were donating. The discussion at the cash register spurred a whole line of folks to do the same, and in just a few minutes everyone was discussing how they might help the kids who really need some help. Like wild fire the contagion of support spreads and before you know it every kid in town has the same advantages.
During this hectic time, it is easy to fixate on our own needs, to dial into our own isolated demands, but I dare you to stretch beyond your own boundaries. Remember this next generation are dealing with so much, from the front lines of targeted school violence to an uncertain environmental future, inheriting a whole planet of catastrophic issues to reconcile. They need to be focused and better educated than we ever imagined necessary. They need to problem solve all that we have laid on them, and they need the tools to do so. Let’s all do what we can to lend a helping hand for those who are our future. #backtoschool2019 #payitforward