Today is the first day of school for Whitfield County Schools, three weeks later than usual. It is gray and gloomy outside and I’m feeling melancholy, to use an old-fashioned term. This is my second “first day of school” as a retired media specialist, and I feel a little lonely.
I’m missing that first day of school excitement. Educators are the most optimistic people I know. At the end of May they are worn slap out, tired of the paperwork, grades, inventory and all the other “junk” that goes along with wrapping up the school year —not to mention the kids, who are wild by then.
But when the doors open again for the next year, they are ready to hit the ground running. They have planned and cleaned and decorated, and they can’t wait for the students to come. The ‘first day of school’ excitement is not just for children — the adults in the building are just as nervous and jittery as the kids.
This year has its own brand of nerves. The term I’ve heard over and over from my school friends is “fear of the unknown”. No one, including administrators and parents, knows what this school year is going to look like. That adds a layer of anxiety that is different from ever before.
But despite their concerns over distance learning and how to make connections with children they are not even getting to meet, most people I know that work in schools do it because they have a deep and sincere love for the students and families they serve. That’s what makes schools a special community.
The staff at my old school, Valley Point Middle, has extra reasons for excitement — they are opening their spacious, gorgeous new building today. Even though the old building held memories, the staff and students deserve a modern facility that engenders pride. So not only will the students be coming back after a six-month break, they will be seeing the new school for the first time. Everyone will be lost and confused together. It is a historic day and one that I hate to miss.
So today I’m praying. As each school friend or parent posts their first day of school picture on Facebook, I’m praying specifically for him or her. I’m praying for my friends who work the front desk, for the media specialists ensuring all the technology is working for online learning, for the administrators keeping everything running smoothly, for the teachers establishing classroom rules in a brand new world, for those comforting scared children. I’m praying for the students working at home, and for their parents. I hope they feel my prayers for calm and strength.
I’m adding a little prayer for myself. I’ve learned in this first year of retirement that life moves on. Each season of my life has had its positive and negatives, and the same is true of this stage. I love my freedom and the lack of stress, but on days like today I miss that special form of crazy that is the first day of school.
We thank God for you all the time and pray for you. While praying to God our Father, we always remember your work of faith and your acts of love and your hope that never gives up in our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 1:2-3)