I remember first grade and my first day of school.
I was so afraid. I remember that I held tightly to my aunt's hand as she led me into the big building.
I was afraid of that big brick building and the wide hallways and all the kids milling about.
I didn't cry but I didn't want to be left there, alone, with all those strange kids, and the teacher.
My aunt was telling me that everything would be fine, but I wasn't so sure about that.
I wanted to go home. It was safe there. I wouldn't get lost.
I don't remember much about the rest of the day.
But, of course, everything did turn out okay that day, and the next.
I remember the feel and smell of new books. In second grade, maybe, I had my very own spelling book with my name printed inside. It was thinner, smaller than the rest. And it had lists of words that we must learn each week. On Friday we knew we would have a test. I didn't want to miss a single word. I liked the spelling bees, the fairy tales, counting, and learning to read and tell time. And I loved my teacher.
This week school began with a bell and a bang as teachers and students returned to the classroom.
Parents and students may not be aware that lots of preparation preceded that opening day.
Teachers were busy for several days just getting their rooms ready for their students.
I helped my daughter get her third grade classroom ready for the first day of school, so I know what was involved.
We unpacked heavy boxes of books including sets that students will be using all year. Numerous other teaching books had to be unpacked and returned to empty book shelves.
After school let out last June, almost everything in the room had to be removed, such as school desks, chairs, bookcases, rugs, computers, computer desks, and tables. That heavy removal was done by custodians and helpers.
After floors were cleaned and waxed by custodians, all those items were returned to the classrooms, but boxes of items had to be opened and put in their proper places. That was done by the individual classroom teachers.
After that was accomplished, teachers had numerous other chores to do. Desks were rearranged and name tags made for each desk.
Names were printed on individual pencil boxes, and composition books and text books. Pencils were sharpened and text books placed on each desk. Bulletin boards were decorated both inside the room and outside in the hallway leading to the classroom.
Teachers sent out newsletters and greetings to parents and students. Lesson plans were made for the first week of school, including spelling words to be learned.
All these behind-the-scene chores were done before a student stepped into the classroom that first day.
After all these years, I'm convinced that a good teacher is a valued thing.
Teaching must be more difficult today than in the past because everything is more complex.
The golden rule days were simpler. There's more to today's curriculum than reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today there are smart boards, smart phones, computers, overhead projectors, intercoms, labs, and other modern aides.
Students are more sophisticated, street smart and versed.
Yet students in my daughter's third grade class will tear up, emotional, when she reads Wilson Rawls, "Where the Red Fern Grows."
Maybe there's hope for the future after all.
Hats off to our teachers.