Teachers – even veterans of many years – admit they get a little nervous, and excited, about the start of fall classes
By Dave Wieczorek
If you or your children have been lucky enough to have been exposed to great teachers, or you have the good fortune to live with one, then you know that to these champions of the classroom a new school year is the start of spring training, opening night at the theater and a birthday all rolled into one.
For these teachers, anticipation of fall classes causes their stomachs to flutter with butterflies of nervous excitement. Like baseball players who report to spring training, they envision nothing but base hits and spectacular catches for the coming season.
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring, wrote the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins, and while we would not dispute that sunny outlook, teachers might argue that there’s nothing so beautiful as the first day of a new school year.
“It’s like opening a birthday present,” one teacher says. “You don’t know what you’re getting, and that excites me, because it creates an element of surprise. On that first day the possibilities for the entire school year are endless.”
For such teachers, autumn is the echo of spring – a renewal, a fresh start for both themselves and their students.
“The first day of school in the fall is similar to the first day of football practice,” says Mike Morrill, head football coach and U.S. history teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale. “Everyone is starting with a clean slate, personal and team expectations are high, friendships are renewed, and there is a strong sense that anything is possible.”
Teachers across all levels of education share that spirit of optimism.
“Engaging with students is something special,” says Charles Zelden, professor of history and political science at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. “I learn as much from teaching my students as they do from my teaching. I love my job.”
It’s a feeling the great ones never lose.
“That first day there’s the smell of new crayons and the sharpening of new pencils and all that silly stuff,” says Jaimee Sabato, a fifth-grade teacher in her 10th year at American Heritage School’s campus in Boca Raton. “There are all those new little minds to mold and teach. There’s an incredible energy. You can feel the buzz in the air.”
Perhaps part of it is knowing the importance of what they do.
“The teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession,” said John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach who preferred to call himself a teacher.
“Great teachers are performing miracles every single day,” says Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. “An effective teacher? [She] walks on water.”
The butterfly excitement on day one never wanes for these miracle workers, no matter if it’s their fifth, 10th, 20th or 30th year in the classroom. As the curtain rises on yet another new production, they’re hoping to direct their biggest hit yet.