The First Three Days of School…
This blog is about real life in our Lutheran schools. The title may allow the reader to reminisce a bit about the start of this school year. Doing so certainly gives perspective. There is typically great excitement! We watch the children walk into our buildings with big smiles. Returning students have grown so much. There are new faces, but also, we miss those who have not returned. And new staff members! The building looks great, with fresh bulletin boards that share the theme. There may even be new playground equipment. This first day includes a special welcoming chapel, with almost every seat filled – students, staff, parents, grandparents, and guests. Most important procedures are shared within each classroom, and the practice begins. Lots of questions, too like, “What will this year be like?” and “How will God bless us with joy and teach us through our challenges?” As we start our year with the Lord and in prayer, we place it all in God’s hands.
So…what happened on those first three days?
- Here in the Austin Texas area, it was 105 degrees on the first day of school. It was even hotter on the blacktop. The dismissal team was exhausted and had sweat through their clothing, to the point where one staff member suggested, “Hey – let’s go into the walk-in freezer and cool off. Why not” We did and found some freezee pops to enjoy.
Added note: We laughed and laughed. Staff bonding! A parent was so kind and bought the staff eight electronic neck fans from Amazon – to help us get through the continuing Texas heat.
- A graduate from the past school year sent an email to a beloved teacher, sharing how he hoped she would have a wonderful first day! (“…I hope you have a good year. I hope you have fun teaching the new 6th graders. I also hope that the eighth graders won’t be too much trouble for you. Have a good year!”)
Added note: Every graduate knows that “Zion is always their school,” even after graduation. They typically stay close to the staff in numerous ways, for years to come.
- A teacher who has been at our school for many years became a mentor for a brand-new teacher. At the end of the first day, she sent this note to her protégé:
“Hey Ashley, I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed teaching with you today! I’m glad you have joined our middle school teaching team and am looking forward to a great year!”
Added note: Just taking the time to share such an encouraging note spoke volumes.
- A stranger appeared at the front door, asking to enter. The school administrative assistant would not let him in because he appeared/sounded agitated, angry. She called in the principal to help determine if it was a good idea to let him in, or not. She did everything right, still desiring to show good “customer service,” but knowing she was a front-line employee in helping to keep everyone safe.
Added note: We all reviewed the importance of screening properly.
- Texts to the principal were non-stop, starting on that first day, from all over the country. They were well-wishes, Scripture verses, and general encouragement.
Added note: Holy Spirit moments!
- Little Ellis, in our Pre-Kindergarten class, had a meltdown (one of many to come). The principal took him for a moment, which turned into an hour. He had expended so much energy in his tantrum that he quickly fell asleep. The principal had had him in his lap, so just decided to let him sleep as multiple grades of students passed by the bench they were on. All were respectful and some told me later they said a prayer for the little guy.
Added note: At mid-quarter, there was a mutual decision that we knew he was not ready to continue at our school; we simply did not have the resources to support him. All were saddened, especially the teacher and family, but it gave us a very short window to minister to them.
- Sydney cried and cried when it was time to come into the school and to her classroom. As a new Kindergarten student, she just clung to mom. That third day, while her classmates were in a specials class, her homeroom teacher just grabbed her hand and began walking her around the school. She was using her own prep time to build a remarkable relationship with this child. Sydney no longer cries, but truly looks forward to time with her teachers and classmates, with Christ at the center.
- Added note: From Sydney’s teacher – “Hello Sydney’s Family. I am so glad I was able to talk with you earlier today. Sydney did much better 30 minutes leading up to nap time and after waking up from nap. I think sleep will be very necessary with the new rigors of kindergarten. If you could please send a picture for her to keep by her desk as a reminder of you and talk to her this weekend about how we all love her and want her to be successful in school. Also, if you could remind her that you will always come pick her up at the end of the day that might help with the tears as well! The way you dropped her off today as well was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your support! We will get through this transition!” And days later: “Good Evening. I just wanted to send a quick email and let you know what a successful rest of the day we had with Sydney after the morning drop off! With the help of a colleague, Sydney was able to calm down at her desk and do her morning work and start math with us by 8:20-ish. There was one time she was close to crying, but she looked at her pictures that you sent in and took a few deep breaths, and she held it together! I kept telling her all day how proud of her I was, and she told me tomorrow she is going to come in with a smiling face! She also told me she wants to stay at school forever, so big prayers that continues into tomorrow morning! Thank you for being so successful with drop-offs and helpful! Keep talking up how wonderful school is. “
We are on a journey, even…an adventure! There are prayer moments at every turn. Decisions can be difficult. Working with students and families we come to love, we watch God work in marvelous and sometime mysterious ways. We love each other, and it affects the culture in ways that can only grow a staff in stronger ways.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness….
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Thank You, Lord, for continually teaching us in real life in our Lutheran schools. In some cases, even the first three days of school can give us times of rejoicing, times of great challenges, and new opportunities to serve with relational love. Lutheran schoolteachers rock!