This summer I walked hand-in-hand with Eddie into the building that used to be my high school. The cafeteria housed his gymnastics class, and it was the first time I had walked into the building since graduation in the spring of 1996.
After I graduated, the school turned into a second middle school for the district, housing all ninth graders in the second level. A new high school was built on the north side of town. Cortney had his senior year in that new high school.
Since then, the building I knew as high school but is now a middle school evacuated the ninth grade into the two high schools that now make up our district. Things have definitely changed in 17 years.
However, as I held my four-year old’s hand into this building I had entered thousands of times, I was knocked back to the mid-nineties by the smell of chlorine from the pools and whatever universal thing they clean schools with to make them all smell like teenage years.
I had to fight the old habit to turn left and head to the band room. That is the power of smells, isn’t it?
I am starting my eleventh year of teaching high school in just a few weeks, but I have started the pilgrimage back to my classroom a few weeks ago.
As I walked into the halls, each and every time, the smells of teaching and learning come back to me. When I open the door to my classroom I smell the cleanser and my muted vanilla scent along with that smell of school.
When I’ve been away from the smell, coming back to it gives me a sense of purpose, of renewal.
It seems like every fall is a new adventure. Ever since my first year I could never predict what I would be teaching, where I would be, or what my student load would look like. Shoot, some years I didn’t even know if I would have a job because of all the budget cuts.
In all the years of teaching, I have never been able to answer the question of “so what will you be teaching this year?” with a confident answer. Nor could I just say, “same as usual”. There really hasn’t ever been a “usual”.
This year is no exception.
Over the weekend Eddie spotted the first red leaves on the trees by our house.
The first signs of the changes that are coming.
This year I am teaching 12th grade English for the first time along with 11th grade English. I am also teaching a semester elective called Mass Media for the first time.
On top of that, I am continuing to take two online classes toward the 30 credits beyond my Masters degree.
AND I just took on teaching an evening writing class at the local community college two nights a week.
In order to do all these things, something had to give. Unfortunately I had to take a step back from my weekly posts at Borderless News and Views. This was hard for me since I love to write about my views–especially on the subject of education. But I also couldn’t let opportunities for me to make a difference in education pass me by either. Eventually I will be back, and in the meantime they are letting me sporadically post there. So watch for me!
Oh. And there’s one more thing.
This guy is starting preschool in September.
All the other craziness aside, this is what is the hardest for me to wrap my brain around.
He and I are both SUPER excited and just a little bit nervous. But we have been talking about it. He likes the idea of going to school because to him, school is awesome. The big kids get to go to school. His mom works at a school. His mom and dad both have gone to school in his lifetime. And now he gets to do that too.
This year we will start some new Back To School traditions, and as much as it hurts my heart to watch summer slip away, I am excited for the change that is peeking at us through the trees and blowing around in the wind.