I believe in the first day of school. I remember the excitement of the weeks leading up to that first day of each school year. Mom would take us shopping to buy a first-day outfit. We saved our allowances to buy our new supplies. I remember the smell of freshly sharpened pencils with their bright pink erasers, unmarred by the correction of my errors. The crayons nestled in a crisp-edged box, each with a perfect tip. Most importantly I remember the belief that this year would be the one. The year when I would earn straight A’s and would be the successful scholar I wanted to be.
Then days of fall would tick by and my work would falter, marred by a forgotten assignment or a concept misunderstood. I never did seem to master spelling. The perfect year would slip away in minor errors. By the middle of the spring, I would be struggling along as best I could to keep working toward the success I wanted, but it was an act of sheer will power, the chance at perfection lost.
The arrival of summer brought the mental freedom of long, unscheduled hours. I ran and played. I learned about math buying candy at the store and science from the crayfish in the creek down the road. I wrote novels in my head about the adventures I lived. School was forgotten for a while.
One hot day at the end of July, I would begin to save my coins, looking forward to the August day when we would go out in search of the new supplies we would need. I would start to dream of new pencils and sharp-edged boxes of crayons and another chance at the perfect year.
I am no longer a student in the public schools. I have become one of the thousands of dedicated teachers who guide and inspire students across this nation. Each year I relive the excitement I remember from my youth. My room is transforming with the coming of the first day. The bulletin boards appear with bright new themes. After a summer of reading, my lessons are being rewritten and reorganized. The new crayons, pencils, papers and other supplies wait in readiness in their containers on my classroom counter. This is the year I will be a great teacher. This is the year when every student will succeed under my leadership. This is the year when I will perfect the art of teaching. I am ready. I believe in the first day of school.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.