Summer comes to an end
By Jeff Salter
Apparently this was my recommended topic… even though I was fully aware we’d last covered this area a mere five years ago. But some of the Resident Foxes came on-board since that point, so I thought it would be interesting to see what they had to say about the end of summer… or the beginning of the school term.
Until I read Elaine Cantrell’s blog yesterday, I had believed that I never gave a thought to what this time of year meant to a TEACHER. Oops. I’d basically forgotten that my two of my three major characters in The Ghostess and MISTER Muir are high school teachers… and Levi Muir is starting his FIRST year teaching. While writing that manuscript, I significantly immersed myself into the mind of a “newbie” teacher… as well as those “veterans” of three years or more. As part of my research, I quizzed friends and acquaintances who teach (or taught) to learn details I thought important to my text.
All that is merely to say, I’m glad Elaine reminded me that I had briefly immersed myself into the role of a returning (or starting) teacher at the crucial point of semester beginning. Having done so, I now have a bit more sympathy for the teachers.
As a kid, my rather general (and totally unsubstantiated) view – along with many other students, I’ll wager – was that teachers and principals were somewhat like prison guards… eager to herd us back “inside” and clang the iron-barred gates behind us. Ha. Thankfully, I no longer feel that way.
I was a very fortunate student, in that I made good grades without having to kill myself to get them. And I was extremely blessed with many terrific teachers along the way. For grades 1-12, I had only a few teachers I did not like, or whom I thought were not up to snuff.
One year stands out
This is probably a good place to note that my sophomore year was spent in a completely different school, different environment, and different state. After nine years of living and schooling in southeast Louisiana, my dad’s new job was in southeast IOWA… in a town called Mt. Pleasant. Dad was the new Protestant Chaplain at the State Mental Hospital there and we lived on Asylum Drive, on the grounds of the hospital. No longer recall (when during that summer) we arrived, but it was at least several weeks before the school term began. I guess that related mostly to the need for my Dad to begin his new job, but may also have been so we could become acquainted with the folks there. Oddly, the guy I spent the most time with (during those remaining summer weeks) was from IDAHO and was merely visiting his sister (wife of a staff member… whose house was two doors away). So I began my 10th grade year knowing only two faces in the entire school — the next door neighbor who had almost nothing to do with me, and the neighbor a bit further down the drive whom I knew only by sight and name.
Being the new kid in high school is tough. Heck, it’s difficult enough just being 14.5 years old. There was also a bit of culture shock: lots of kids viewed me as a “southerner” – which, of course, was regionally accurate – but for some of them that was a pejorative term. So there I was, thrust into a foreign environment with a bunch of Yankees, still mindful of the Civil War. Thank goodness for my new friend Luis, the neighbor I’d only briefly met prior that first day of class. Luis and I had some classes together and immediately began hanging around together at other times. After all, he was even more foreign than I was — he being from Chile, by way of Florida.
And slowly – as the prejudices and/or suspicious of several Iowa kids began to melt away – we each began making new friends. I made several new friends who Luis didn’t know… and I’m sure he made several whom I didn’t know. So we both did all right for that single year in that cold, northern clime.
That year – especially that first week or so – has since made me much more welcoming to strangers. If I’d ever (before) been among those “locals” who’d merely stare at the new kid, after that Iowa year I was among the first to welcome them… or at least act friendly toward them.
Being a new kid in a new school in a new state was possibly one of the more important experiences of my formative years. That said, I’d never want to do it again — especially not for 10th grade… and NOT at the tender age of 14.5.
For a look at what was going through my noggin five years ago, on this same topic, please check out this blog:
For a look at back-to-school with a slightly different focus, please check my blog from SEVEN years ago:
What about YOU? Anything stick out in your memory about the end of summer… or the start of school?
[JLS # 398]