A low fog is hanging over the corn this morning behind the house. My feet are damp from the heavy due and the mug of coffee in my hands is warm and aromatic. Dawn comes a little later everyday now and the apples are almost ready to pick. In the stillness, a dash of orange floats by. A magnificent monarch butterfly settles on a nearby weed and I know fall is near. My wife Jeanette, a teacher, has already been out collecting monarch caterpillars to place in her kindergarten classroom. She is hoping one will make its metamorphosis before her student’s eyes. Jeanette is a wise and gifted teacher because she knows that watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly can change the course of a child’s school experience. She knows that if she can connect a child’s sense of wonder with her classroom, school can become a sacred place for kids. Of course, the caterpillar is only a small part of all the things she will do to make school important for her students, yet it is the part that distinguishes our best and most experienced teachers. The best teachers make school a welcoming place where kids can learn the skills to satisfy their curiosity. It makes me smile thinking about what Jeanette has in store for those wide-eyed five year olds.
And for those who await the arrival of different grades and ages, I hope you will remember those teachers from your past who motivated you to be someone you didn’t think you could be. You know better than anyone else how critical it is for kids to find support and success in school. For their sake, do what you know is best.
In a book I’m reading, a character says of his job, “This job requires physical and mental skills, but more soul than anything else.” In our zeal to determine quality by counting only those things easily measured, I hope you will continue to nurture the “soul” of our schools.
Have a good year,