Saturday, April 26, 2014

Years 35 to 37: Elementary Learning Specialist for Central Valley Schools: Nobody starts the school year off like Central Valley!

As the summer of 2011 wound down and I got ready for the new school year in my new job, I was excited and a little scared at the same time. At almost 60, was this the right thing to do? But I knew it would be a fresh start hopefully with teachers and students I could offer new ideas and strategies to.

Now the Central Valley school district does something I had never experienced in all my years in the education field. They host the most amazing, uplifting, and somewhat nostalgic opening to the school year I've ever seen. To me it is reminiscent of bygone years and simpler times; something that might have brought us all together in the 1950s.

On one of the days before the school year starts, all staff are invited to one of the high schools (they alternate between University high and Central Valley high each year). To start the morning off, Spokane Teachers Credit Union and the school board supply fruit, pastries and coffee, have tickets to fill out for winning gift baskets, etc. You have a chance to wander around, catch up with your fellow teachers, and meet new friends.

After about an hour of eating and visiting, this huge group of teachers and staff move to the gym. In the gym, the high school band, in full dress uniform, plays for everyone. Such amazing talent! And as we gather, it is such a treat to hear them play! When everyone is inside and the band has played a couple more songs, the American flag lowers from the gymnasium ceiling, and we all stand as the band plays the national anthem. One year a young very talented girl of about 11 sang a solo of the anthem. If this doesn't get your patriotic juices flowing, nothing will! It also always brings a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat, and I wonder if I will be able to get myself back together!

The next part of this opening to the school year consists of inspirational talks, videos, PowerPoint shows, etc. by school board members and district administration, including the superintendent. There is always a theme: this year it was "What's Up With That?" This was crazy fun! How often do you see your district administrators dress up in costumes, sing, dance, and put on skits? And boy, I have to say, our HR person really has a great voice! This was so much fun and afterwards almost everyone is in a good mood and ready to start the school year. The only challenging thing is getting out of the parking lot! That can take a looooong time. But hey, why not just chat with a few more people while you're waiting?

I will miss these openings to the school year. Even though I've only attended three, I've enjoyed them so much that I'm wondering; do you think anyone will notice if I come
and join in the fun next year?