Education Opinion

Here They Come

By Hanne Denney — September 10, 2005 2 min read
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Ready or not, here they come. They did come; the students, that is. All 2,086 ethnically, politically, economically, racially, religiously, ability diverse of them came. Arundel High School opened its doors after a two-day delay for construction. And I wasn’t ready! I admit it!

Were you ready? I’d love to hear what your first days were like. Hot? Exciting? Frantic? Enervating or energizing? Let me tell you about mine.

Arundel High is undergoing a two year construction project to (at long last) install air conditioning. All summer long crews tore open ceilings, moved boxes and furniture, and tried to do as much as possible without students and teachers present. Our school was closed for the summer to faculty. Teachers began to work in the classrooms only four days before students arrived. Some teachers didn’t even get that much time as we dealt with reassigned rooms, misplaced boxes and files, temporary trailers, broken furniture, etc.

The rooms were 90 degrees hot, the electrical system was spotty, and the humidity was so high not even hot glue guns would hold posters on the walls. But teachers, as always, coped. We put our up our hair, rolled up our sleeves, slipped on our flip-flops, and got to work. And amazingly, we opened. I believe the real thanks go to our custodial crew, who worked round the clock for several days to get done what was needed. Our school was clean; in fact, it was gleaming (even with one hall still closed for on-going construction).

The first day of classes, as we began the necessary procedural reviews with the students, the lights began to blink out, and on, brighter and dimmer. The class change bells were not working, the PA system was down. Finally, notes were passed to teachers. The electrical problems were sending us home early!

Since then we’ve kept as many lights off as possible, minimized computer use, and served cold lunches in the cafeteria. By limiting our electrical requirements, we’ve kept power, and stayed open all day. It hasn’t been easy – copiers don’t work, computers are not available, lights and fans are dim and slow. I am not complaining, though – we have water to drink, gas for our school buses, and homes to return to. Our staff still starts each day with smiles, the students are still learning the state-mandated lessons, and teachers come back every day. As our principle says (over and over), “Remember the key words – ‘flexibility’ and ‘patience.’” Sometimes Mrs. Stratton smiles when she says that, sometimes she doesn’t.

Well, I AM flexible, I AM patient. After all, I AM a teacher. I feel like I’m not ever ready enough, but still I get the job done. I think those two characteristics are requirements for all of us, don’t you? Flexibility and patience. Do you have them? Don’t you have to have them to be a successful teacher today?

The first school days at Arundel High School have been amazingly successful. Were yours?

The opinions expressed in Ready or Not are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.