Each Year a New Beginning
By Christy S. Martin, Ed.D.
It is almost time for school to start again. It is like a renewal every year. As a retired educator, I remember well the way there was always a freshness with each school year beginning. A time to see kids who have grown and changed over the summer break, a time to start doing something different or better, a time for beginnings. Never have our schools and our teachers needed a fresh start more than this school year. Never have they needed our support more.
Last year was the first year, post pandemic, and it was a little rocky. It was hard not to expect a school closure, even in my district that held school thru the pandemic. Every day was a challenge with staffing shortages and the expectation of the unexpected. Tested achievement went up in most districts this year, but the exhaustion was on the faces of every educator and most students all year long. Post pandemic, they have dealt with kids and families in crisis, trying to accelerate lagging achievement, and stressed-out parents, coworkers, and administrators. Some have left the profession. Staffing issues will mark the coming. There will be new challenges.
Educators are under intense pressure from politics that try to polarize their profession. Most of those I know stay above it as school boards and communities roil with curriculum challenges, censorship, ugliness, and distrust. The teachers and schools will try as they always do to carry on and care for the youth, while staying out of the fray of the emotional bullets of politics. They do it very well and thank goodness they do. They just want the kids to learn.
It is, as it always is – and hopefully always will be, a new beginning. With new things there is always hope that this year more learning will occur. I have faith that it will; it always does. Schools will experience more hungry kids as the schools run out of the money they used to feed all kids in all schools. The lack of the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), the federal money that assisted school budgets during the pandemic will hurt too (The remaining ESSER funds must be obligated by September 30). Through it all our educators, our public schools, those who love kids and learning above all else, will find a way to make this a successful year. They will feed our kids with learning, food, clothing, and love like they always do.
I know in my educator’s heart that there will be lives touched and improved by those who are called to the profession of teaching this year. It is a profession that looks toward the future for its rewards. It is one that is the mainstay of every community’s life. It holds the key to our freedoms and independence. We need our public schools. We need our teachers and our schools.
This year, I have made a goal. I will adopt a school and support it in any way I can; financially when needed and with volunteer work as I can. I will support them emotionally with whatever words or deeds I can give, as well as with my voice in support of all they do. We can all do something. My school district wants to add volunteers to read to kids, some schools need volunteer mentors. School districts always needs to hear supportive voices with budget problems and tax hurdles. Sometimes a smile or just a “thank you for all you do,” is enough to make their day.
My goal is to stay out of the political fray and keep it about the kids and the teachers. I hope to make a difference with those whom I know are doing so with our kids. Won’t you join me? Never have they needed us, their community, more. Almost as much as we need them.
About the author
Christy Martin recently retired after more than 35 years as an educator K-12 and post-secondary as well as several years as a coordinator of programs for youth aging out of foster care. She writes about what she knows from experiences in education and social services. Christy welcomes comments on her articles. Communicate with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can also be found on Christy Martin | Facebook, Christy S. Martin (@ChristySMartin1) / Twitter, and (4) Christy Martin, Ed.D. | LinkedIn.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.