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On My Honor: Welcome Back to School

by / 0 Comments / 54 View / August 31, 2015

Michael Brown

With the recent 100-degree weather, you wouldn’t think that fall is just around the corner. But, as happens every year, milder temperatures will soon be upon us. And of course, the change in season signals the return to school. This week, Belton ISD personnel, like school folks all around the nation, are busily getting ready for the first day of classes.

I remember well the anticipation. Like most kids, my grandchildren are a bit anxious about the start of school. But they are also very excited to see friends again and of course, to learn. We beat the rush this year and finished shopping for clothes and supplies a couple of weeks ago. I participate in that as much as I can. Although I’m no longer a student or a teacher, I enjoy sharing in the enthusiasm.

Have you seen the recent videos circulating, which show what it would be like if ordinary teachers were treated like pro athletes? As a former math teacher, I especially like the one about the calculus teacher who gets a million-dollar signing bonus! The truth is, each year on average, a teacher will spend out-of-pocket more than $400 on expenses related to their classrooms. I’m sure most teachers would be grateful simply knowing they have the support of the community. The most obvious support comes from parents. Parental involvement in schools includes attending meetings, staying in touch with teachers, and volunteering for events. Research clearly indicates that when parents are actively involved, their student has better attendance and earns higher grades.

Besides teachers and parents, a child’s education depends on the quality of the support staff. In the school, that includes the principals, counselors, teacher aides, secretaries, nurses, janitors, and cafeteria workers. When I taught, I knew I could count on any one of those folks for help, at any time. I learned a great deal about guiding young people from my support staff. One aide in particular was an absolute angel to our students. She instinctively knew how to calmly encourage students in a consistent, loving way. I could read her face during a lesson – signaling me to slow down or go over something again. I earned a meal each day by serving in the cafeteria during my lunch period. I found it to be a great way to reinforce lessons about double-negatives and multiplying integers. “Mister, don’t give me no gravy” was rewarded with, yes, gravy.

So, get ready to watch out for the little people next Monday as they head off for their first day of school. Remember that their futures depend on getting a quality education. Be supportive of our schools as you are able. And to all teachers and staff support, have a great year!

Michael Brown is an education consultant and former teacher. He can be contacted at michael.brown@utexas.edu.