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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Ode to Educators

Dr. Nadine’s Thoughts:

Ah, the beginning of another school year!  Each year I have such mixed feelings about the end of the summer.  On the one hand, I love the season that late August and early September ushers in, with its breezy, sultry daytimes, earlier sunsets, and lengthening evenings which accompany the lazy last days of summer.  On the other, I can feel the rush of energy as I gear up to welcome another group of students coming in to begin the next academic year of their lives. The relaxation of July and August melts away into a fast-paced overdrive of activities, preparations, and people gearing up to meet the immediate challenges of the incoming kids.

In my case, being part of a higher educational institution, the welcoming activities of the school year are of a slightly different nature than in the K through 12 systems.  It’s a time when parents are saying goodbye to their “children”, knowing that they won’t be sending them off in the morning, and awaiting their returns at night. Instead, the dedicated caregivers of the next generation are ushering them into their “young adulthood”, with all the rights and responsibilities that go with that.

I have the curious pleasure of being one of the educators whose job it is to welcome the students to college as they move in to their residence halls over the Labor Day weekend.  It’s my assignment to greet every car holding a student that is assigned to the freshman hall. I give them the requisite information about where and how to deliver the mountains of “stuff” hanging out of the back seats and trunks (some have UHauls and trailers), and where to find their keys.  In this role, I am privy to the experiences of both parents and children in their transitions to school from home. As I lean in to say “hello” to the occupants of the cars, I often see BIG smiles on the student faces, and little, uncertain smiles on the faces of the parents. I teasingly ask “Are you ready?”, and “Who’s more excited?”  The answers are distinct and varied. Most often, the kids are excited, scared, uncertain, and eager. So are the parents! They both are facing a major change in life as they know it. The students are eager to be grown ups; the parents are a bit sad that they are young fledglings. The kids are nervous about making friends, keeping up with the academics and adjusting to life without their familial supports; the caregivers are a wee bit excited that the kids will be learning to take care of themselves.

It’s a privilege to be entrusted with the welfare of these youngsters, at such a pivotal time in their lives.  I don’t know anyone, if they’ve chosen education as their career path, who doesn’t value and respect the students in their charge.  There’s also a recognition that their caregivers expect us to do our jobs well: to educate and simultaneously develop the students to be the best version of themselves.  I admit, it’s often a daunting task, but one that we commit to every day.

So as you are welcoming the autumn, whether you’re sending your kids off to school or enjoying the season sans enfants, know that there are dedicated people looking out for them and supporting you in your work as caregivers.

Dr. Zan’s Reflections:

I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Nadine that those who have chosen education as a career, responsible for young people at any point in the process, are filled with care and concern for their students. As a parent, I am deeply grateful for and reliant upon this fact. Last week, along with countless others, I experienced another first day of school with my child. In our case, this will be the last time we will have a first day in this particular school system, given that he is our youngest and will transition to the high school district next year. So a bit of nostalgia sets in upon realizing that we will have a number of final special moments in the school that has become a part of the shared history of each of our children. 

It seems only fitting and natural that reflection upon our special school moments should become an occasion to express appreciation for the dedicated educators who make these moments both memorable and formative. We certainly don’t hold back when it is time to criticize those who hold responsible positions in the schools. In fact, I found myself falling into the familiar “complaint mode” when I discovered that the school supply list had been incomplete and required a last minute dash about town to find needed supplies by the 2nd day of school. Fortunately, I was able to pause, take a breath, and realize that my need to purchase more marble notebooks and a calculator was not really going to have a lasting negative impact on my life or that of my family. “Perspective!” rings in my ears, courtesy of a dear friend who is a brilliant educator and administrator. Ah, yes--always good advice to keep life’s inconveniences in perspective, especially for those of us who are blessed with lives of connection and abundance.

So we invite you to join us in expressions of gratitude for the educators who faithfully engage with our children and young adults to keep them safe, to broaden their perspectives, to open their hearts and minds to opportunities to make their communities--local and global--into better places for all inhabitants. Take a moment to recognize and acknowledge each task that contributes to the education and molding of a global citizen. For instance, Ms. Heidi has been the smiling face and warm wave to greet my child upon entry to the school bus every day we have made it on time, even waiting patiently to allow entry when our last minute tendencies render us undeserving. On the days when too much equipment or schedules require being driven to school, the maintenance team, especially Mr. Ken, offers warm greetings to provide every student and parent a positive start to their day. Ms. Dee has been the consistent supportive presence in the office to look after my kids, making certain they feel known, special, and cared for. Ms. Patty has made trips back to the band room to retrieve a forgotten instrument or bag--never scolding or chastising. Countless occasions of band-aids and saltines served up with plenty of compassion from Ms. Kelly has been the hallmark of middle school for my kids. And all of these amazing people are not even in the classroom, where we automatically assume we will find influential educators. Of course, those in charge of subject areas have taught my children to love and embrace music and all of the arts, history, literature, scientific reasoning and action, the beauty of a mathematical equation, physical and emotional wellness, and the list goes on and on.

So today, educators, we sing your praises. we know that your heart is with your students. Your job is difficult, and your students occupy your thoughts continuously, not just during the school day or exclusive to the school year. You facilitate learning. You challenge and support our youth. What job could be more important or fulfilling? 

We are mindful of all that you do. Thank you.

#trueheightsconsulting #educationmatters #thankateacher #mindfulness #gratitude #parenting

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