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Sweet Dreams

Existing home sales were depressed, the financial markets were going nowhere in the search for a “bottom”, and many Americans were unemployed or felt they would be by year end.  The year was 1974.

Your Headmaster was 24.  His college days were behind him, a very short-lived professional football career ended quickly by simply “being one step too slow to the outside”, and a two-year stint coaching football at the collegiate level ended by choice.  Fortunately, a teaching credential had been earned along the way and he was fortunate enough to have landed a fulltime teaching and coaching position at the Francis W. Parker School. 

Like all teachers rookie or seasoned, the excitement ran extremely high as he pressed forward in planning countless hours to make the first day of school, and the ensuing days, weeks, and months memorable ones for the students who would be in his charge.

Parker had just moved to its current Linda Vista campus to take over the site previously held by the San Miguel School, a former day and boarding facility.  Therefore, in addition to regular classrooms and offices, there were a number of dorm rooms on campus including a residence quarters with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a common area.  Since this new teacher was low man on the faculty totem pole, and all the traditional classrooms were claimed he was assigned to a dorm residence and set up shop in one of the common areas.

No one is quite sure how shortly before the first day of class, this teacher found himself in the bathroom of that residence dorm neck deep in textbooks and scattered loose-leaf lesson plans now totally askew and covering him as he lay in the bathtub.  Worse yet it was merely minutes before the bell would ring to announce the arrival of the first students and he was still unshaved, un-showered, and dressed in clothes that were clearly contrary to what his own headmaster at the time had admonished him to wear.  It was clear the flannel shirt and pajama bottoms just weren’t going to cut it.

People who analyze such things say that dreams like this are natural, and allow one to deal more effectively with high levels of stress and anxiety.  The dream simply plays out the worst as the person later experiences the actual event and feels more relaxed and in control.  Although this reflection helps to explain the phenomenon, it does not seem to stave off their annual occurrence, as this teacher had them on a recurring basis in some form every year he taught, and in subsequent years as an administrator.  In fact, his first year as an administrator no one showed up for school the first day, and prior to the beginning of his second, he lost his way to school and wandered for hours before finding the campus.   

What it really means is that the first day of school can be one of the more stressful of the year, but also one of the most enjoyable.  For students, uniforms are pressed, backpacks are filled, and the anticipation of seeing new and old friends again, along with waiting to get that first, smile, hug or reassuring glance from the new teacher, and seeing all those new supplies at the desk outfitted just for them, is pictured time and again before the actual event.

Faculty are feverishly putting the last touches on that first exciting lesson, arranging their rooms this way and that, decorating their bulletin boards, and putting things in just the right order so the students, new to their classrooms will feel right at home the minute they step across the threshold.

Parents recall their own first days of school.  They abandon their summer schedules and bring them into alignment with that of the School to lesson stress on their child, and focus on the importance of school.  Reassuring comments are made to older children in the household about how great the school year is going to be, and the younger ones are read stories that help make the adjustment from home to school easier.

So as the welcomes ring out, the cameras flash, and the smiles return; enjoy the day. Sweet dreams!

Posted by Raymond Volker on Monday September, 5, 2011 at 09:13AM

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