This week marks the beginning of a new school year for Arkansas public and private school employees and students. Most classroom teachers are wondering where the summer went, while most parents are trying hard to contain their excitement as they celebrate the fact that their children are back to school.
It has been thirty-two years since I attended public school. (Just typing that makes me feel old!) I can remember how much I enjoyed getting to school early so I could visit with friends before the first bell. As a matter of fact, I think I visited all day long! Looking back to the days of elementary school, I remember when Mary Evelyn, the secretary, would send me up the hill to get snacks at Mamie’s. There are tons of memories from Westside Junior High of just gathering in the back parking lot with friends or in front of Mamie’s after school. We always wanted our parents to be a little late to pick us up so we’d have time to select our cold drink and candy from Mamie’s little store. In high school, our greatest fear was being caught acting foolish or running in the hallways.
I remember sitting in class and hearing the bell that signaled a fire drill or tornado drill. For most of us, these drills weren't taken very seriously. We’d never had a fire in one of our buildings or a significant weather event that damaged the brick and mortar. My classmates and I would sit in the hall, usually giggling and/or talking, while the teacher would walk behind us and tell us to “hush” and put our head between our knees. Or we would lolly-gag out to the parking lot waiting for the all-clear signal after the fire drill.
From the beginning of time, teachers and support staff have entered their profession with a love for children and a desire to help them learn and grow. Their training has been in educating. They have always felt the responsibility of protecting and nurturing the young people under their care.
Today, our school employees and children are still being taught reading, writing and arithmetic. They are still having fire and tornado drills. But added to list of subjects being taught is how to react in the event of an active shooter. Added to the drills is an “active shooter” drill. Added to professional development is a weight that no school employee should have to bear.
As our public and private schools begin this academic year, I hope you will join our staff in praying diligently for our classroom teachers, support staff and administrators. I pray that you will ask God to put a hedge of protection around each and every school campus. I ask that you encourage those school employees with whom you come in contact and thank them for what they do on a daily basis.
May God bless you, and our schools during this 2018-2019 school year.