Sharpen Your Pencils, Rev Your Engines

It’s time for the new school year to start! Both of my children started school yesterday and are diligently at work today on their homework.

This year will feel like a race toward the finish line in May, with the occasional pit stop for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break, as we speed through many wonderful activities and events and milestones.

Thinking back to my own school days, memories sharpen like a No. 2 pencil. I remember friends who were in classes, activities of retro sock hops in sixth grade, selling ribbons on Fridays for the football games, and Homecoming dances and mums. I remember being separated from my best friend in first grade, being moved to the higher reading class and crying all weekend over not being with my favorite teacher Mrs. Lutz in second grade, and not making drill team the first year I tried out in high school. I remember having a crush on a certain cute boy named John, being asked to marry another boy in kindergarten while doing the duck walk, and listening to Mrs. Hudson read aloud the Little House books.

I can’t say I remember all the dates I had to memorize for history or Latin phrases or all the math. Learning often takes place outside the lines and pages of text books–in the understanding of human nature and interactions with teachers and other students. One thing I learned throughout my years in school is that learning is important and it doesn’t end with graduation. Whether you’re older than your teachers or younger, learning is a lifelong pursuit.

One of my favorite teachers was Dr. Buchanan. She was a history teacher in my high school. She made me think and question. She pushed me harder than any teacher ever had. She wouldn’t settle for mediocre. She didn’t settle for thinking inside the box. She was wise and funny and thought-provoking. I remember having an 89.8 in her class, and I argued she should raise it to a 90 so I wouldn’t have to take the final. She said I needed to take the final. No argument worked to change her mind. For the first time in high school, I actually had to study. She knew what I needed. And I learned. And I loved her for pushing me to beyond what I thought I could do. She was a great teacher.

I also remember my years of teaching school. The last year I taught, I had a student named…Paul. I changed his name to protect the innocent…or not so innocent. I was teaching Pre-first grade. He was in first grade for exactly one week before his teacher transferred him to my class. Paul had a problem. He was scared. Immature. And freaked out by school. So he would try to escape from school everyday and run home. Some days, I would have to hold Paul in my lap to keep him from bolting out the door. After two weeks of that, Paul finally settled down and realized he could do this work. He was smart and turned out to be my best student that year. I have such fond memories of him and so many other students I taught.

Now my children are accumulating memories as they move through their school years. I pray they will have happy memories and that the inevitable hard ones will build character and understanding. There is more to learn than what is written in their text books and all their learning will shape them into who they will become and how they will act and react in the future. I pray for their teachers, for wisdom and understanding. I pray for all teachers, for protection and encouragement, that they will be a blessing to their students and be blessed in return for their efforts and patience. I pray for all the students, both young and old, to do their best and gain not just knowledge but wisdom.

As we speed through the new year, take time to enjoy the moments.

Celebrate the good grades, hug and learn from the less than perfect scores, and know that there is so much more to life than a report card. Celebrate the little accomplishments as well as the bigger ones. Celebrate learning. Celebrate growth. Celebrate truth. Have a blessed school year, all you teachers and lifelong students!

Do you have a student going to school? Or are you a teacher? Do you have a special memory of another student or a teacher? What was your favorite subject? History?
English? Recess?

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