September 05, 2007 I think probably September and fall are my favorite times of the year and I think a lot has to do with the fact that with autumn the start of the school year begins. When I was teaching I always looked forward to the fall classes and enjoyed meeting the students, though surprisingly the first class of the semester I was always nervous about meeting them for the first time.
When I was growing up I always looked forward to the first day of school and I remember as a little boy I used to enjoy getting a new pencil box. As I recall they were made of cardboard and would slide open to reveal a couple of pencils, some crayons, a plastic ruler and a half rounded piece of plastic that you could use to draw circles and measure angles with.
Later when I reached seventh grade there would be trips to the book store, usually Ulrichs in Ann Arbor to get school supplies. The pencil box was replaced with a new fountain pen, pencils and a three ring binder along with a supply of notebook paper.
Several weeks before school started there was always the ritual of clothes shopping. My mother and I would either visit Sears in downtown Ann Arbor or one of the many clothing stores that you could find on Main Street.
Most of the time I would come away with a couple of shirts and several pairs of pants and probably a new pair of shoes, all which were known as 'good clothes' as opposed to 'play clothes' and always Mom would remind me that the 'good clothes' were for school and nothing else.
Until I went away to a private school which required a sports jacket, tie, dress shirt and pants I went to University High School in Ann Arbor. At the beginning of the school year we would be assigned a locker, check out our home room, get our class schedule and find out who our teachers would be.
U High and University Elementary School were both run by the school of education, which meant we got a lot of practice teachers and were tested a lot by the school psychologist and became test subjects for the latest theories of education that came along.
I discovered that my favorite teacher was Scott Westerman, who taught our civics class. Later he would become the Superintendent of Schools in Ann Arbor and the Dean of the School of Education at Eastern Michigan University.
After I left U High I went away to school and eventually ended up at Cornwall Academy in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. There I came under the influence of Mr. John Geddes Moran, the headmaster, and spent at least one summer school at Cornwall where Mr. Moran took us to concerts at Tanglewood, which was the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
I regret to say that both Cornwall Academy and University High School no longer exist except in memory, but the years I spent in both schools did much to shape both my character and love of learning which carried over into my teaching career.
Yesterday, school began here in Imlay City and as a school board member I attended the teacher's welcome breakfast in August. As always when I attend these functions I find that the teachers seem to look younger and younger each year and it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart from the high school students. That's not too bad except for the fact that I seem to be getting older and the teachers remain about the same age. Unfortunately there is not much I can do about that.
Today the problems we face in public education are much more difficult than those faced by the generation of teachers that taught me, despite that we are fortunate here in Imlay City to have a faculty, staff and administrative leadership that represent the best and brightest of their generation.
For that reason alone I am proud to be a part of a school community that makes educational practice the rule rather than the exception. One more reason to appreciate fall and the start of another school year. Now if I could only do something about this age thing life would be just about perfect.