I was a little nervous during the short drive from the district office to North Oakview today. I am sure the thunderstorm and lightning added to the uneasy feeling in my stomach but that was not the real reason for the butterflies.
I remember having the very same kind of feeling for the past 40 years on the first day of school. Deep excitement, follow by nervousness that families have chosen us to help their child learn as much as they can, as fast as they can.
Now that I remember it, my mom told me I cried every day on the way to school for the first 20 days of kindergarten. I didn’t see any child or adult crying today.
Those of you who are regular readers of “Thursdays With North Oakview” will remember that Travis, now a first grade student, became my life coach last year. I was really concerned that Travis wouldn’t remember that I expected him to continue the coaching arrangement this year. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t quite sure if he would even remember me. I couldn’t wait to get outside for my assigned duty at the “drop-off” line.
I was relieved when Travis and his sister jumped out of their van and greeted me like no time had passed. After a quick hello and a few comments about our red shoes, Travis took off for the school. I yelled “who is your teacher this year?” His reply was typical Travis -“I don’t know, you can find me!”
The “drop-off” line gives me the chance to see how our families give their children a great start to the school day. Some dads, some moms, and several grandparents brought children to school. Many goodbye kisses and hugs along with words of encouragement to have a good day. I even heard a couple of parents say “learn something new today and be kind to other kids.”
The kids in one of the 3rd grade rooms I visited today were surprised to see that I was wearing my red tennis shoes – just like Pete the Cat! The teacher immediately had the kids break into song and dance. What was even more impressive was the way the teacher engaged students who were reluctant to join in the fun.
A strong teacher/student relationship improves student academic performance and nurtures their social development.
Dr. James Comer goes even further by stating “no significant learning occurs without a significantrelationship.”
Time for a short quiz!
Do you know the best reason for being physically active and exercising? If you guessed weight control and healthy hearts you would be wrong. The best reason is it activates your brain. The PE teacher at North has an exercise bike in the gym that is available for students who have too much or too little energy during the day. By the way, he also has organized an after school fitness class for the staff. Healthy body and healthy mind for students and staff alike.
I did manage to “find” Travis in his new first grade room. He is playing flag football this fall. Wrestling will come later. He had his first game last night. Travis said that after practicing so much it was fun to play the game.
Earlier this week a person from the media asked me what it was like for educators on the first day of school. I responded in Travis like words – “we are excited to get in the game after so much practice.”
I didn’t cry today like my first 20 days of kindergarten. But I think I was a little more excited than my life coach to “get in the game” today.
Sincerely and With Great Respect,
Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent