Another One Bites the Dust

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.

Back to School Road Sign

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.

Looking back

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]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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11 Responses to Another One Bites the Dust

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I think for most, the start of school is nerve-wracking, even for teachers. Who will be in your class? Will you like the teachers? Get the mean/hard teacher? Who will you sit with at lunch? I never liked the start of school because of all those stressors and because I didn’t want to give up my summer days. I wasn’t fond of school clothes shopping, either. Still not a fan of clothes shopping. But overall, I was a kid that could roll with it. Nothing major sticks out. But spring break…senior year…well, ask about that when the time comes. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  2. My grade school was run very much like a prison. The principal and most of the teachers used fear, bullying and humiliation to maintain control.Seriously. I didn’t have a decent person for a teacher until 5th grade, and she was a newbie.
    Your situation sounds like even the adults moving here; ‘Brought-ins’ find each other here for survival.
    And again,God bless you father! I can’t imagine the patience he needed to minister to the patients. I had forgotten that part of his ministry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      My dad has two other jobs in the ministry: one at Vineville Bapt. Ch. in Macon Ga. and the other as a chaplain at the mental hospital in Mandeville LA. He made a lot of professional connections in the annual conferences he went to, among other correspondence. I remember one time, he was seriously considering a job as chaplain for the Salvation Army HQ in San Francisco. I assume that was a county or regional HQ,
      After a few years in Iowa, including time in Des Moines on a Governor’s commission, he returned to LA and joined the state employment service, where he worked as a job placement counselor for many years until retirement.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Jenn has a great point. This was my first week of classes, and I’ve met 48 new-to-me students. But having been through this so many times, I know we’re all going to settle in for a great semester – and then I’ll do it again. But as a 14 year old, I would have been extremely intimidated. Glad you made friends. And as you said, the experience made you more compassionate and tuned in to other people’s feelings of being new.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Yes, Patricia… and that experience served me well as I went to college out-of-state — knowing nobody except the sophomore who’d shown me around campus the previous spring — and Air Force basic training — where I knew nobody, period — and all the new bases I was transferred to. Not to mention my two library jobs after grad school.


  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    After teaching fourteen year olds for a lot of years, you have my sympathy, Jeff. That can’t have been easy to be a new kid at that age even if it did turn out okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Yeah… a tough year. Glad I wasn’t a freshman, though. I think it would’ve been easier if I’d been there for 11th or 12th.


  5. Bittersweet back to school for me this year as it’s the first I no longer have my classroom. Not as hard as the first year I couldn’t go back but the permanence is hitting me now, the possibility is gone. At the same time, it’s much more relaxing – back to school is brutal for teachers, especially with the little ones. Kudos to all teachers!!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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