I swear summer seems to get shorter and shorter and before you know it, school’s back in session. (This isn’t real swearing, I promise.) I warmly remember summers spent chopping, picking, pickling, canning, raking, shelling, cutting, shucking anything that got planted—a never-ending list of chores. The Lord knows I was happy to see fall come.
I loved filling my new notebooks with paper, preparing my folders for each subject, planning the right outfit for day one—so much excitement and anticipation. Most years were pretty good though it took a minute to realize that if I didn’t do much, things could turn ugly pretty quickly.
My mom worked at our school and she was always handy if I underperformed or “showed out” as Mr. Dewey Baskerville called it. My seventh grade teacher, Mr. Baskerville had no shame in reminding me “Lilgirl, I’ll tell your mama on you,” and he’d paddle me, go right out the door, report what I’d done, and that was the start of a reaaaaaly bad day.
Oh well, today it doesn’t matter if you’re ready for school or need three more days hanging out with friends and video games, this year we, whether we have children or not, have the power to help students succeed. I believe so goes students and schools, so goes our communities and the world. This is much like the adage that purports you can tell a lot about a town by its library.
This year we must be more involved and interested in what’s going on inside. We are the public in public education and every student deserves a clean, beautiful, safe school, an excited and well-trained teacher who can handily manage the classroom, interesting books and materials, involved and interested parents, and students who’ve had enough sleep in their own beds, who are well-fed, and prepared to learn. We can and must make this possible.
When I taught at the collegiate level, I’d ask what kinds of careers my students were preparing for. More times than I’d like to admit, students would say they were getting certified to teach in case their first few choices didn’t pan out. I strongly encouraged them to find another fall-back plan because every child deserves a teacher whose only goal is to be the very best teacher ever. Yes, I understand that teachers aren’t the whole equation—there are plenty of moving parts. Here’s how you can help this year:
Attend school board meetings and be informed. They may be more interesting than when I covered them as a reporter, but I doubt it. Go anyway.
Insist on mentoring support and above average pay for first-year and veteran teachers so they can do their best work and inspire their young charges. They are among the most powerful people on earth—let’s treat them as such. Encourage retirements, where necessary.
Create opportunities for more parental involvement—set a goal of 100 percent participation and see what happens. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Build student success into the system so you have nowhere to go but up. Suspensions and expulsions defeat the purpose—find a more excellent way please. When students love school, adore their teachers, and have supportive peers, all is right with the world.
Volunteer and encourage. Even if you don’t know how to do the math or diagram sentences, encouragement is always in style. Do it often and have a great year.
As always, let us know your thoughts about the new school year via Twitter and Facebook at #drbondhopson.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.