There’s nothing like the first day of school. I can still recall the excitement I felt as I eagerly awaited its arrival. Meeting my teachers and reacquainting with old friends was just part of the magic. The sense of optimism I felt was almost palpable, as each year marked a new adventure. And while some of my friends mourned the loss of summer freedom, I was always ready to jump back in with sharpened pencils, shiny new shoes and a coordinated backpack and lunchbox. To this day my mother is convinced that the allure of new school supplies is the reason I first became a teacher.
Back to school is much like New Year’s Eve with the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make changes. It’s the fresh start, clean slate time where anything is possible. For those of us lucky enough to work in education, we enjoy the same benefit as our students, the chance to begin each year as a new chapter in our lives. Setting goals, exploring new interests and meeting new people are gifts disguised as opportunities. And while having a myriad of opportunities can feel overwhelming, helping both students and faculty navigate possibilities in order to discover hidden potential, is a role I cherish. It is in that spirit that this school year I am chasing a dream I have had for a long time, pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership.
More than two decades have passed since I was a college student and I am simultaneously elated and terrified. I’ve already been assigned a paper, a presentation and a group project, and class hasn’t even started yet. Obtaining a parking pass, learning how to navigate Canvas as a student, and writing my obituary (yes, that is my first assignment) are pushing me far beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone. I can see how easily excitement can turn to trepidation for our students. But I am determined not to let the challenge detract from the amazing learning journey on which I have embarked. I’ve already connected with a new colleague, my project partner, and she sounds terrific. And I’ve written my obituary to reflect a long, happy life. I might even get my first A.
Back to school has a completely new meaning for me this year. I can feel myself being transported back to that young girl with the sharpened pencils, shiny new shoes, coordinated backpack and lunchbox, and I like how that feels. This time I might even add a matching iPad case. I’m optimistic for me and for the great school year ahead for all of us. If you need to find me this year, I’ll be hanging with the other students in the Learning Commons.