Happy New School Year!
Go ahead; admit it. It’s that time of the year, and you are energized. Those half-price composition books and reams of loose leaf paper put a spring in your step, don’t they? And why wouldn’t they? It’s Back to School, and the possibilities fan out into the fall.
Of course, no one likes vacation to end, and pools and picnics are enchanting. Still, I have always loved the promise and prospect that each new school year provides. Students arrive eager to greet old friends and meet new ones. The familiar is vaguely unfamiliar as new faces range the halls and higher expectations become evident. Possibility and promise can be read in every face.
Students don’t realize that teachers are experiencing that same back-to-school animation as they prepare lessons – many old friends and a few new ones. I’m sure my colleagues share my enthusiasm for revisiting intriguing concepts and anticipating the joy of sharing in the moment of understanding as students address ideas in the classroom. Teachers at Chelsea have the additional opportunity to encourage students as they meet challenges in sports, clubs, and outdoor adventure. Old Rag, the Shenandoah River, the soccer pitch and basketball court, a Lenten Retreat, poetry recitations and geography bees await. It is invigorating for one and all, and you can already feel it in the halls of Chelsea as teachers stop by to prepare their rooms and Mrs. Mueller sorts and covers books.
Our goal as teachers is to nourish the promise of the early days through the lessons that fall flat and the cold, dark mornings of the winter. While an occasional lesson may not work the way we plan, our focus remains consistent. Chelsea takes St. Paul seriously when he says to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable.” (Philippians 4:8) He never says to think about things because they are easy or clever or fun. Some things that are true are difficult; some things that are commendable are heartbreaking. Students who “think on these things” blossom, challenge their teachers, and inspire their classmates.
Most people mark the new year on January 1, but I have always thought of the year in school terms. It’s nearly New Year’s Day. A fresh start. We are poised on the brink of all that promise and possibility. I can hardly imagine what I will learn this year from the eager, joyful, humorous, creative students who will walk into Room 6. I hope they will learn from me as well. Happy New Year!
Post by: Shari Schäffer, Chelsea Faculty Member