In about 20 minutes, I will step out of my apartment and begin a new adventure.
It's the first day of school in the Joplin R-8 School District, and though we work steadfastly to maintain this image of being calm, in control, and acting as if it were just another day, the truth is teachers' hearts are pounding a little quicker and we are just as nervous as someone attending school for the first time.
To teachers, the first day of school is the opening of a doorway to dreams, a time when all things are possible. Those who continue to demonize public schoolteachers in their efforts to privatize schools and push special interests should spend some time in our schools in the hours leading up to this special day.
Had they been walking the halls at East Middle School, they might have seen my next door neighbor, eighth grade reading teacher Andrea Thomas as she arranged seats in a way that will best promote student learning, and for the umpteenth time changed what she had on the walls in her room, making sure that everything was perfect when students enter this morning.
A trip through East Middle School Monday would have also revealed faculty meetings in which teachers shared thoughts on educational strategies and worked on procedures to ensure student safety once those first bells ring this morning.
At East Middle School, a visitor would have seen teachers in each other's rooms throughout the course of the day, sharing thoughts, giving and receiving advice, and sharing hopes for the 2010-2011 school year. Contrary to what has been portrayed in the media, most public schoolteachers are not sitting in teachers' lounges, grumbling about the kids and parents.
There is an excitement today. Every first day of school is a new beginning. This is my 12th year as a classroom teacher and I feel just as excited today as I did in 1999 before my first day at Diamond Middle School.
And anyone who was walking the halls at East Middle School earlier this week would have seen the excitement of first-year teachers matched by the veterans on our staff like Ms. Joyce Wall, a special education teacher, who has spent nearly four decades educating our children.
Another school year is here. And the possibilities are limitless.