The crisp white of a new page of notebook paper, freshly sharpened pencils, the aroma of a just-opened box of crayons and a new, freeflowing bottle of Elmer's Glue all herald the hope of the school year to come.
Those who excel academically, athletically and in other extra-curricular endeavors are generally eager to get the school year started. Even students who do not excel in academics usually are ready for that first day of school.
After that introductory day - the "honeymoon" of getting acquainted - students and teachers settle into a routine. The days wear on, and even the unused pages of notebook paper curl in the heat of fingers rubbing their edges in anxiety, pencils dull and erasers are worn to their metal casings. The aroma of that new box of crayons lives on, but crayons are dulled by use and broken by abuse. That bottle of glue doesn't flow so freely anymore, clogged by liquid meeting the humid air that further thickens and hardens the gooey stuff.
If only there were a way to capture that sense of eagerness, that motivation and sense of adventure that many students feel on the first day of school.
Teachers aren't miracle workers, but they play a big role in keeping students motivated and maintaining that eagerness to learn.
In his autobiography, legendary newsman Walter Cronkite said, in effect, teachers who make classes boring should be subject to criminal penalties. He referred specifically to history, and I will add literature, government, science, geography, biology. No subject should be boring. If it is, the teacher is boring and should be directed to seek another career.
Granted, rare is the individual who finds every subject fascinating. However, with some effort, a teacher can reach a student whose forte is not the subject at hand, and therein lies success. A chemistry teacher who sends his or her top students to state competition year in and year out should not bask in his or her own glory, but in the gift of students gifted in that discipline.
On the other hand, the chemistry teacher who finds a way to show a student who is "bored" with chemistry how to make it meaningful can bask in the reward of a job well done.
The teacher who lights the fire under a student previously unmotivated, or who seeks out and discovers the way to reach a student who is struggling, can enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
Every year in Port Aransas, all the teachers don their academic garb and sit as a group to witness the seniors walk across the stage to accept their diplomas. Many of those teachers have known the graduates since, or before, their first day of pre-kindergarten. I am awed at the sense of pride and reward these teachers must feel for having been part of these students ' lives and having helped them develop and succeed.
It is an awesome responsibility these teachers take on, the nurturing of an individual's future.
It should be taken seriously, because teachers are in a unique position to guide students to become successful, productive adults.
Motivated students become successful adults. For that, they need motivated teachers.
A new school year and eager students is a good start.
Go for it!