The First Day Of School
As a school administrator my two favorite days of the year were the first day teachers returned to school and the day the left for summer break. Today most children in our area return to school or they have been in school for a couple of weeks. When I see the buses running or hear of a teacher talk about returning, I get nostalgic for the first day of school.
Today is the first day of school for my former district, and I miss the wonderful excitement of kids filling the halls, and watching teachers discovering the building improvements we made over the summer. My favorite thing about the first day of school is watching a new teacher, teach their first lesson in their first classroom. I once saw a middle age lady who the principal had high expectations for, get her first classroom. Her dream had been to teach but she was sidetracked by her life into a job she never really wanted. Consequently she left a higher paying job to go to school, get her teacher license and be an elementary school teacher. It was a long journey for her and her family and when she entered her first classroom she broke down with tears of joy. She will never forget that first day of school. Neither will I. The excitement of putting great people in positions where they will excel is an unbelievable experience. I would liken it to attending the opening a new multimillion dollar school that you worked to complete in time to receive students. There is nothing like experiencing that accomplishment.
The real victories however happen with kids. In fact it happens in some odd areas. Seeing a physically challenged child maneuver the front door by themselves the first time is incredible. You just cannot imagine the look on that child’s face when they suddenly appear in the front to check in. You know that child just grew up and they offer all of who happen to be there a glimpse of a big time accomplishment.
The other place where miracles occur is the school nurses station. I love standing in the nurses’ station and seeing kids taking responsibility, usually for the first time. A child comes in finds his meter takes his reading and lets the nurse know how he is doing. Sometimes you see a child who last year was afraid of needles, give themselves a needed injection or an older child who lets the nurse know they have a new pump and shows off the technology. Teachers call these moments the ah-ha moment. That is the moment when a child gets it. It is the moment when a new task suddenly makes sense; it is that moment when the child can show someone else what they have learned. When you see it, you are just hooked on education and when it occurs you realize you have seen something special. It is those special moments which bring me to the diabetic child and their growth at school.
Unfortunately as often as not one also sees the opposite of children growing up. Like the HS student (a junior) whose mom followed him all day, went to each class with him and carried snacks, insulin and a meter. She crossed the line between dutiful parent and smothering mom. Or the mom who called every half hour and showed up at school every two hours to check on her 7th grader. Both of these moms loved their children very much but at some point one has to ask who are they serving? Was the point of their obsession, themselves or the child? Unfortunately after discussing the issue with them, I believe they were serving themselves.
The goal of adults has to be to let out children grow up. It is appropriate to help children who need help. But it is not appropriate to deny them the chance to grow up. Growing up means helping children make mistakes, face difficulty, and overcome problems. My sincere hope for each child this year, Is that their failures will be manageable, they successes great and that they grow up a lot. Diabetic kids need to grow up faster than most kids. We need to help them do that. I pray they do just that this school year.