starting fresh

I take my position by my door and face the new school year.

“Good morning!”

“Happy Back to School!”

“How ya doin’ today?”

“Lookin’ tired!  Wake up and smile! We’re BACK!”

Faces wander past me.  Some familiar, some new.

The familiar ones give me head nods, high fives, shout out’s, even hugs.

“How was your summer, Mrs. Sluiter?”

“I heard you’re pregnant!  YAY!”

“Aw, I wish I had your class this year, Sluiter!”

“I read your blog.  I’m glad you are feeling better.”

I watch new faces walk through my door.

They don’t know me.  Some know of me, some do not.

There are shy smiles.

Some nervous, searching eyes.

The hallway where I stand is full of chatter, but as my classroom fills up, it is almost silent.

Most do not know what to expect.

The past students crane their necks past me to peek at the new kids filling up the desks that they used to occupy.

“Look out for that one, Sluiter!”

“Oh hey, you have my sister!”

“You guys are lucky!  Sluiter is the best!”

I laugh and shove the previous students down the hall to their new classes.

But inside, my heart smiles.

My soul feels a spark it hasn’t felt in months.

As the clock ticks down the last minute until the first class, new sneakers squeak against the newly waxed floor.

“Hurry up!  You don’t want a tardy on the first day!”

“Do you know what classroom you are going to?  208?  That is upstairs.”

“Are you looking for my class?  Mrs. Sluiter?  You found it!”

The bell rings.  Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong.

I take one last glance down the empty hall.


Take a deep breath.

And as I close my door I announce with complete confidence,

“Welcome back to school and into Sluiter Nation!  We are going to have a GREAT year!”
Just Write

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Glad your first day back was great! Hope you have a wonderful school year! {& your students are very lucky to have you}

  2. Oh, I can just feel the excitement of a new beginning!


  3. Lord, you make me WANT to go back to school!

  4. I wish my teachers had all been like you, my lovely friend.


  5. Something about this post… I just love it. I can feel your confidence… 🙂

  6. I love it when your heart smiles…

  7. I LOVE this! I feel like I should go sharpen pencils or something.

  8. Yes, it WILL be a great year. Hugs and all the best to you, Katie!

  9. Your writing just exudes confidence and excitement! I love it.

  10. I love that they think you’re the best.

    Awesome, Katie, Just awesome.

  11. Love this – I can feel the anticipation of a new year, too.

    Sluiter Nation sounds like someplace I’d like to be. 🙂


  12. Sometimes, I miss teaching so much it aches. And you’ve expressed why so perfectly.

  13. So glad you’re doing what you love. You clearly are doing an amazing job if you’re so loved by your students. I’m happy for you.

  14. My mom is a teacher, and this is perfect. She’d say so. Your students are lucky. Actually, lucky is an understatement.

  15. This is exactly what it’s like.


    Welcome back.

  16. I echo what Ellie said, “Sluiter Nation sounds like someplace I’d like to be” Your classroom sparks imaginations every day. Can anyone else ask for more? Great piece of writing.

  17. Fantastic, hope it is a great year!

  18. Good teachers are a gift. Great, passionate teachers are an immeasurable blessing to students. For real. I would send my kids to Sluiter Nation any day. Your love for your job is exactly what students need to see when they go to school every day.

  19. Loved this post. It’s so fun reading from the teacher’s point of view.

  20. This reminds me of some of my favorite teachers. And I can just so easily picture it just the way you describe it. Ahhh…. I hope you have many, many more days like this.

  21. I love how excited you are Katie! EVERY student deserves a teacher who wants to be there! I couldn’t always muster that, but you? Exude it! Lucky, lucky kids! 🙂

  22. Oh my, I would have wanted you for my teacher. I think I haven’t encountered enough teachers who are EXCITED about teaching and their students like you seem to exude.

  23. I wanna be in your class!
    I just love how I really feel like I was just in a school. I can feel the new!

  24. “Sluiter is the best!” made me smile and “I read your blog” made me cringe. Either way, it sounds like you have a very cool class this year. Enjoy!

    What lucky kids.