A couple years ago, my daughter's school district purchased a new phone system allowing them to place robo calls. Now, instead of having to rely on phone trees or the U.S. Postal Service or notes sent home via backpack mail -- which may or may not be delivered -- our principal can with one phone call reach virtually all of the families of children enrolled at her school. But it's been summer vacation, so no robo calls.
"Hello, Oakwood Manor Families ... "
These words signaled summer's end.
Those are the words -- spoken in her pleasant, cheerful, professional voice -- that the principal of my daughter's school uses at the beginning of every phone message. Sometimes she is calling to remind us of upcoming school programs. Sometimes she is calling to remind us that outstanding lunch balances must be paid before final grade cards can be released. Tonight she was calling to welcome us back to school.
Back to School Night will be Thursday, August 12th.
Usually I am excited about this time of year. My daughter, a good student, makes a show of moaning about summer ending but always ends up being excited about the new year. We have fun shopping for fall outfits and school supplies. Last year she asked me to dye her hair pink for the first day of school.
The first day of school.
In two weeks, my ten-year-old will be entering her last year of elementary school, and for the first time ever I will not be there to walk her to the door and take her picture in her new outfit.
In two weeks, I will be starting my student teaching. I tell myself I am excited about it. That I want this new profession so much I have put years of graduate coursework into it. Teaching and Learning Theory ... Growth and Development of Children and Adolescents ... Methodology in the Content Area ... Curriculum Theory and Practice ... Special Needs ... Law ... Literacy ... Sociological Factors ... Technology ... Assessment ... Classroom Management ...
In two weeks, I will be meeting the students I will be working with this semester. Already, my mind is spinning with lesson plans and the prospects of all the learning I hope they and I will be doing this fall.
I tell myself that this is the first step toward my return to the workforce, to once again becoming a wage earner who can contribute to the financial stability of my family. And -- given the financial upheavals of the last few years -- we (like so many other families) need a second income. It has been a financial sacrifice ... no, an investment ... to pay for my classes. No loans. We paid for every single cent of this graduate degree out of my husband's earnings and our savings. And I am proud of what I have accomplished academically.
"Good Evening, Oakwood Manor Families."
... there are only two more weeks of summer vacation remaining.
I know this will be an exciting back-to-school for all of us.
So why -- right now ... tonight ... -- why do I feel like crying?