Tuesday, November 30, 2021

What Does “Back to School” Mean to You?



Jory Westberry

What memories do the words, “Back to School” tickle in your head? An end to goofing off and feeling so free that when the wind blows through your hair it erases any schedule you had? The time to play was paramount to even eating lunch or dinner when you were called; you dutifully looked apologetic when reprimanded for being late, while in your heart you wanted to keep playing forever.

“Back to School” means many things to many people.

For the retailers it’s a much needed lift after the sultry summer with clothing sales, school supplies, backpacks and whatever cool new advertised must have item that’s been on TV all summer.

Health care services are up to their collective headaches with physicals, paperwork, immunizations and verifications.

To parents it’s a respite from the summer schedule of activities, enrichment and trying your best to keep your child(ren) reading and reviewing to prevent that two-month decline in skills that occurs when the brain atrophies from lack of practice. (*Note, that’s not true, the brain always keeps learning, but the word ‘atrophies’ was just too dramatic to pass up!)

For many parents it’s also the relief that professional educators will be caring for their child, which gives them some time to meet their own creative needs whether working, volunteering or working out.

For bus drivers, responsibility rings loudly in their memories. Transporting students safely from home to school and back with drivers, apparently in la-la land who don’t stop for the bus signals, and student spontaneity that many of us remember, but may be unwilling to admit that we were ever participants.

For the working public and retirees, it means more traffic, longer driving times and school bus routes to avoid.

For the teachers and administrators who have been “Back to School” for a week or many weeks, it’s a time of preparation, professional development and excitement. Anticipation of your new group of students is paramount with questions like: Will we all mesh as a learning community? How will I effectively meet all their learning needs? Will I be able to challenge and inspire them to be their personal best and follow their dreams?

And, not too long ago, YOU were the student who was heading off to a new grade, a new school, a new level or new challenges. Remember how you planned your outfit for the first day of school? You couldn’t sleep the night before it started because of your excitement/anxiety. Thoughts somersaulted through your brain. “Okay, I have my supplies, my lunch money, is there anything I forgot? Think. Breathe. Keep calm. Will I have friends in my class? Can I make new friends? Will I like my teacher? Are the things I heard about her/him true? Will he/she be patient? How will I remember all the new procedures and names?”

“Back to School” produces varied thoughts from a wide range of people, but the best thoughts and actions come from all of us working together. No matter who you are or what your profession, it’s your opportunity to support the outstanding students in our community and ensure they have the best “Back to School” memories ever for the 2016-2017
school year.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!


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