The last full month of summer. It’s also the back-to-school month. It may be met with dread or excitement. Let’s work and pray for excitement. Let’s put our energy into making this an amazing school year. For everyone.
Our school systems are faced with the monumental task of not only educating our children, but also keeping them safe, feeding them, emotionally supporting them, and providing them with extracurricular activities – all on limited budgets. Meager budgets compared to many businesses.
Personally, this August, I choose to pray for and encourage:
The custodians – They have been working this summer to make needed improvements that can’t be done during the school year. They are the people left to pick up the pieces at the end of the school day, after night time and weekend events, and make the school a brighter place for all who walk through the doors tomorrow.
The bus drivers – They must follow the rules of the road, assess how much longer to wait for riders &/or their pick-up people, navigate poorly maintained roads in inclement weather, while also having their backs to their passengers that may or may not be respectful and causing all kinds of distractions.
The cross walk guards – Early in the morning, I see them in every kind of weather as I sit in my comfortable truck with the a/c or heat on. They smile and wave, helping families get started on their day or helping them move toward the after-school activities, while keeping an eye out for distracted drivers and other hazards.
The paraprofessionals and support staff – They observe recesses and hallways, provide encouragement and assistance to the students and teachers, and help substitute teachers navigate the day’s plans. They are often the (super) glue that invisibly fills the cracks.
The office assistants – The phone calls and messages start before your coffee has kicked in. Somehow you manage to learn where administrators, staff, and students are supposed to be at any given hour of the day. You probably know which kid goes where after school. You know who is sick or injured, who needs a kind word or band-aid to make it better, and also who just needs a
kick in the butt firm word or two. Your ability to navigate the wide variety of parents from nearly non-existents to hovering helicopters is a skill obtained through countless interactions. With paraprofessionals and support staff being the glue, you are the stainless steel reinforcements.
The lunch ladies – you know exactly what kids (and teachers) have had a good morning. You know who needs a meal because they aren’t getting it at home, and who also needs your smile and encouragement just as much. You brighten and sweeten everyone’s day better than any cookie!
The teachers – The students enter your room with nervous anticipation. You may very well become the happiest, most stable part of their day. Your attitude will affect them. You are tasked with not only educating the wide range of abilities in your class, but you must also be on the lookout for each student’s social, emotional, and physical needs. You will spend your own money to provide fun, educational experiences for all, and the basic necessities for some. I know you don’t have an expense account, which is why you appreciate a Walmart or Amazon gift card with more gusto than a corporate executive appreciates their expense account.
The coaches and extracurricular advisors – The time and energy you put into this role is immeasurable. It often comes before your own family at times. You are tasked with finding each student’s strengths and weaknesses and the best way to improve on both. You also get to listen to the coaches in the stands. Everyone has an opinion, which they feel should be voiced. Loudly and on social media. Many parents and people in the community have the belief that the sport/season/record is actually more important than the education. The spectators are allowed to express their emotions and opinions. You are expected to always be positive. I know how you agonize over every play; the way it was supposed to go and the way it actually went. I know you get tired, but still show up with a smile the next morning for your students even though you couldn’t sleep the night before.
The administrators – You have walked in the shoes of your students and employees. You have to make decisions based upon many factors (of which, the public probably knows little to nothing about). You are up well before dawn, making weather-related and other decisions, while also fielding late night calls. Is it safer for students to be out in the elements or possibly facing no breakfast/lunch and child care? What does your board need from you? Your teachers and staff? Is everyone, everyone, prepared for an emergency? What emergency? Every possible emergency, of course.
The board – Serving your school and community, while often receiving a lot of negative feedback as your pay. You know what needs to be done, what should be done, what would be nice to do. You also know the financial bottom line. The regulations and rules. You are questioned, yet bound to not release certain details. Those details that would often quiet the complainers, but you just can’t go there. This isn’t your livelihood, but you care enough to get involved.
Our schools are not failing our kids. They are faced with navigating pandemics and scenarios no one could have imagined. Our schools are filled with human beings that have lives, personal challenges, hopes, and dreams.
If you wonder why I care, since my children are raised, it’s because all four of my husband’s and my kids are employed in the educational field. It’s because I have a granddaughter that is a future student and current Rams’ fan! It’s because communities without schools fail to thrive. It’s because I see the amount of revenue schools and their extracurricular events bring to our local businesses. It’s because these kids are our next leaders, our future.
I challenge everyone to be kind, be positive, be encouraging, to think before you speak. (Boy, do I sometimes struggle with that one! But, I pray to keep improving.)
Good luck to school employees, students, and parents. Rise above the nay-sayers. Make this year a great one!