Back to school night: The fact that this came for us this year two days after Labor Day was a shock in itself. There was the usual introduction of staff, and a reiteration for parents and caregivers about the importance of their involvement in their children's education. It was a scene that I have experienced twenty-two times previously, and so I was somewhat nonchalant about the affair. I waited until my name was called, and I walked to the front of the auditorium to the smattering of applause that tends to come with such a walk. I stood and looked out at a room that had nearly as many staff members in it as it had parents. Even though we had carefully timed the proceedings to coincide with the sign out time of our after school program, we did not have a packed house.
Not even close.
Which was disappointing, since once again our principal was preaching to the choir. Those who received the message were already walking the walk and talking the talk. They sat on the benches of the fold-down cafeteria tables and nodded, some waiting for the Spanish translation offered by our Administrative Assistant. Some of the kids were a little wiggly, having already endured a school day and were now being asked to sit still in a place where they had done just that only a few hours ago. But this group was the one that maintained. There were no interruptions or outbursts, just patient attendance.
Which is what the night is really all about. Come and meet your child's new teacher. See what they will be learning this year. Ask how you can be involved. Even if you don't ask, we'll tell you. That's our job. We will teach the children, but if they open a book or attempt a practice problem after they roar out of the front gate each afternoon, then everyone's job gets a lot easier. It's science. It's common sense. It's parental involvement.
And here is what I know now that I didn't understand twenty-two years ago: There are a lot of parents and caregivers who do not have the bandwidth to carry on with the full Norman Rockwell picture of parenthood, having exited their own childhood somewhat abruptly and landed in a world of responsibility for which they are woefully unprepared. Which is where we come in. We will help them along the path to adulthood in tandem with their children. If they let us.
Now back to school.