Each new school year begins with a sense of anticipation in both the students and teachers of all the new and exciting things we will be learning this year.
And this year on the second day of school I learned something about the awesome powers of both suggestion and gravity. At lunch that day, one of our new teachers said that she hoped she’d wouldn’t do anything to embarrass herself in front of her students. She specifically mention falling. This year I have a new piece of furniture in my classroom, a chair with rollers. (I had to solemnly promise our principal I would not challenge any of the other staff members to a race down the hall.)
That afternoon, seated on my new chair, I was using the document camera as I taught handwriting. When the lesson was finished, I apparently did not push the chair back under the table. Later when we were beginning clean-up time, and I was passing by the chair at my usual breakneck pace, I cleverly managed to tangle my foot around the base of the chair. Well the next thing I knew, the chair and I were tripping the light fantastic. After waltzing around for several seconds, I began to topple toward a cluster of desks. I caught myself by slamming my hands down on an empty desk and coming nose to nose with a rather astonished first-grader, who no doubt was wishing for the security and safety of her old kindergarten room. To quote one of Gene Kelly’s lines from Singing in the Rain, “Dignity, always dignity.”
I mentioned new teachers. This year we welcomed Casey Dietz as our new kindergarten teacher and Brenda McCoy who teaches language arts and social studies to the fifth- through eighth-graders. We are all very happy that they have joined our school family.
This year “Talk Like a Pirate” Day fell on Monday. The pirates invaded our school several days earlier, on Sept. 16. Fall pictures were scheduled for Monday, and I assumed most parents prefer their children not to be dressed as pirates on picture day. The annual treasure hunt was a success and the bounty was shared by the first- and second-grade pirates.
Because Patriots’ Day fell on Sunday this year, the school gathered around the flagpole on Sept. 12, for a prayer service to remember all those who perished on that fateful day. We prayed for peace and healing for our world. Students and staff joined in singing “Amazing Grace” accompanied by Jacob Dircksen on guitar.
As a Catholic school, our primary goal is to help our children develop their faith and deepen their spirituality. To that end, this year we have been practicing Christian meditation. On Aug. 16, Denise Warnecke, from the Sidney Office of Evangelization, came to St. Mary’s to lead a prayer workshop for the teachers. The staff was introduced to Christian meditation. Because we were going to implement meditation as part of our school prayer life this year, the staff was ask to commit to meditation as part of their personal prayer lives.
Now I have to admit that I was the resident skeptic on the staff. I didn’t see how sitting quietly thinking about the word “Maranatha” over and over for two minutes was…well all that useful. I have to admit that since I have begun daily meditation, I have noticed a change in myself for the better. I have found that even meditating a small amount of time proves beneficial. As for my class, we meditate daily. Being little children, they meditate for about 45 seconds. Again, it doesn’t seem like much, but one of my children remarked that she felt refreshed. All the classes have been practicing meditation for time periods appropriate for their ages. At our last staff meeting, Mrs. Dietz said that one of her kindergartners said after meditating, that it sure cleared all the junk out of his mind! On the whole, the atmosphere at school seems to be more peaceful. Do we have a school full of perfect angels? Not quite! But we are definitely working in the right direction.
As a final note, this summer the remaining windows in the school were replaced. Talk about a happy staff! The windows are great. In all the years that I have taught in my classroom, this is the first fall that I have been comfortable. In past years, even with the air conditioner thermostat turned to the lowest setting, my room was usually in the mid- to high-80s by dismissal. This year, I actually had to turn the thermostat up because I was cold.
And on that happy and grateful note I will close.
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.