During college I spent my time working as a summer camp counselor at Camp Kieve. Each summer I planned and led a long wilderness canoe expedition through the North Woods of Maine. The weeks and days leading up to those trips were hectic. I had to ensure that the meals for sixteen teenage boys for eighteen days – a literal ton of food – was packed. Tents had to be seam sealed, stoves checked and refueled, repair kits made, and the canoes tied onto the trailer. I also had to watch that my campers were making it through any lingering homesickness, had packed all the right clothes, and, importantly, not snuck candy bars into their bags, luring unwanted animals into the campsite. On the day of the trip we would be dropped on the shore of a lake or river and I would go through one final checklist before the camp van departed, the last vehicle we would see for two or three weeks. And then the van would leave, we would load the boats, and head off down the river. An hour or two downstream, my brain would finally stop reviewing all of the plans and to-do lists and I would notice the beauty of the river, the quiet sounds of the canoe paddles dipping in and out of water, the humming chatter of teenage boys chatting and joking as we made our way to the first campsite. Once on the river, I could and would savor the moment.
On our first day of school, I had a similar experience. All of the planning and meeting during the past months came to fruition as classes started. About an hour after our new families departed their orientation, I walked the halls and savored the sights and sounds of MTS. Art students worked together to write classroom norms. Science students kicked off a unit on chemical reactions with a Diet Coke explosion. Math students explained their problem solving with a “number talk.” Fifth graders discussed how they learn best and how they want to grow as learners. While we have a full, busy school year ahead of us, I let the moment sink in just as I had done a few miles into a two hundred mile canoe trip.
I encourage families to look for and savor these first moments of the school year. Whether it is the quiet just after students have left home or the soft turning of pages as a student does homework, notice the sounds – or absence of sound – that mark the start of the school year. You, our parent community, have done so much to get your child to this moment – backpacks packed, uniforms ordered, words of encouragement given – and thus deserve to savor this moment in time.
Thank you for sending your children to Mount Tamalpais School. Seeing and hearing them in the classroom fill my days with joy– something that I continue to enjoy all year long. Thank you.