Sudan McKim works for the state department of education in Montgomery. And on the first day of school each year she volunteers to work at a school. This year she went to Garrett Elementary.
Here is her account of the day. She does a great job of reminding us that school really is all about children in all their innocence.
“August 6, 2018. It’s the first day of school. I’ve been waiting for this day for a while now – actually, ever since school was out in May. This is the day I get to volunteer at a school. I’m just a volunteer and I don’t need school supplies. Who has time for technicalities? I am armed with a brand new “no-bleed through” Sharpie pen and a really snazzy pencil from Vera Bradley. I am ready.
My first assignment of the day was to man the lunchroom. At 7:15 am? Yes. That’s where the students go on the first day when they don’t know what to do. One of those kids waiting in the lunchroom was wearing a backpack half her size. She was a talker. I’m a talker. We hit it off. She spent the summer having fun in her cousin’s swimming pool. She stayed in the shallow end and did not jump off the diving board. In four more days, she will be six years old. Then, she explained, she will be jumping off the diving board. I asked her if she could swim. She cannot. Her first lesson may come in four more days. I mentioned that if she learned to swim before she jumped off the diving board, it would make me much more comfortable. She gave my hand a reassuring pat and said, “It’s going to be fine. Don’t you worry.”
My next mission was to escort a new first-grader to his classroom. He was subdued to the point of misery. So, I very cheerfully told him that he was going to have a great year. And, he told me that it was terrible to have to start school on your birthday. Our conversation went like this:
Me: So, today’s your birthday?
Him: Well, no. But it’s soon.
Me: Really? When is it?
Him: It’s really not until next month.
Me: Oh – well, then your birthday’s in September. My birthday is in September, too.
What day is your birthday?
Him: Ummm. My birthday is in October.
Apparently, it can be quite distressing to have to start school two months before your birthday. I learn something new every year on the first day of school.
As I was walking a second-grader to class, I met a gentleman coming out of a kindergarten classroom. All the kids were telling him good-bye. He was carrying a very large and very full garbage bag. He threw it over his shoulder – like Santa Claus – and said, “One down, two to go!” He was delivering supplies to the rooms for his children and was having more fun doing it than you can imagine.
It was a busy day. I counted and delivered 600 school handbooks and Leader in Me booklets. I rounded up breakfast carts and returned them to the cafeteria. I delivered children to classes and escorted tearful parents to the front door. And at the end of the day, it was the words of the sweet little first grader from early morning lunchroom duty that I remembered. They apply to the beginning of each school year – “It’s going to be fine. Don’t you worry.”