Saturday, September 4, 2010

Almost 30 minutes before we were going to open our school doors for Open House, families started lining up outside our school building, sitting on benches, leaning against walls, crouching on the curb side, waiting to be let inside to find out what the new school year holds for them.
As we scurried around inside putting last minute finishing touches on our hallway displays, or stuffing not-yet-organized paperwork into drawers so it will not be in the line of sight, the children and parents danced nervously outside.
Within moments of opening the door our cafeteria was flooded with families- each attempting to navigate the maze of open house- trying to figure out which of their last names we'd listed them under. One mother misunderstood and thought we wanted the last letter of her last name. Some families relied on children as translators, others were pulling their children along behind them, back-to-school nerves keeping normally rambunctious children quiet. Some families dressed their girls in identical dresses- stair step children in bright yellow huddled around their father while he filled out forms- girls in red plaid flannel shirts despite the heat because these were their best matching outfits.
As I handed each family the packet with their teacher's name I heard many gasp- some clutching the paper close to their chest as though if they lost the paper their assigned teacher would change. As long as I whispered, "You lucky duck, you have _____" the family seemed to light up- "Is she/he good?" they'd ask, and I'd smile and say, "Yes! You're going to have a great year!" and the family would beam with delight. I like helping add to the beginning of the year magic by pumping children up about their new teacher. I imagine Tuesday morning will be even better if the student comes to school thinking they have the perfect teacher.
For an hour and a half we helped sort children and families, reassured worried parents, put the right forms in the right hands, explained the alphabet, and welcomed back our families. Our school went from being the quiet, busy building it was during teacher workweek to a bustling community hub full of life and purpose.

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