The start of a new school year

School has begun and there is both joy, sadness and fear. Many kids and parents have been looking forward to this time. For some it is attending school for the first time, meeting new friends and still others reconnecting with classmate they have not seen all summer.   

For parents it is the return to a schedule that even though fully booked with activities at least it is predictable, compared to the summer of vacations and sports.  Of course there are those parents who will be seeing their first or their last child off to school for the first time.  This is the sadness or joy or both episode for parents as they send their children to school.

Notice I have not said a thing about academics or teachers.  Both are vital to a child’s experience and growth while attending school.  Being the son of two educators I know full well what their feelings and thoughts were when the summer ended and school began.  

Anticipation of new or returning students some who were a joy to teach and others well, not so joyful.  But like most teachers they felt the call to educate the generations. My dad would always say you don’t teach a subject you teach a child.  

After all the excitement of the new school year has worn off for students, parents and teachers, it is my belief that this is when education truly begins.  I have attended public elementary and secondary schools as well as a public university, I am truly grateful for those opportunities and I know that I was not always the student that teacher felt joy when I was in the classroom.  But I give credit and praise to those who hung in there with me, those teachers and coaches who saw something in me that I didn’t see.

Whether in public or private education, the partnership of teachers, parents and yes students are asked to create a learning environment that guides, nourishes and encourages the minds of students.  This is a gift to the students, the community and the nation.

Not all settings offer the same quality of education.  Too often the students, parents and teachers have little influence on this in terms of learning resources, financial support and even safe settings for classrooms.  I believe this is wrong.  

Martin Luther believed that education was vital for citizens in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Humanity.  Whether in parochial school settings, public schools, church colleges or campus ministries at public colleges and universities, the followers of Christ should be advocates of quality education for all.

Last year I asked a group of kids in North Omaha, if they were excited about summer vacation starting.  All of them said no and two of them started crying.  I asked the teacher what was wrong.  She told me that school was a refuge, a safe place, a place where what they learned was a gift, not a trauma.  

It is my hope that school can be a safe place, a caring place and positive learning place.  Where all students can be encouraged and guided in their growth in both mind and body.  I will be praying for all of them and I hope you do too!