All across this great nation of ours, from New York City to Los Angeles, June is the month for happy. It’s a time for weddings and graduations and festive celebrations of every vintage of milestone. In the independent school world, it’s also the month for wistful good-byes and sad embraces and the seemingly instantaneous silencing of previously riotous school hallways. In contrast to the end of summer (which, as the saying goes, ‘winds down like an unplugged fan’), the school year slams to a close after a month-long, action-packed race to the finish, leaving in its wake exhausted teachers and administrators wishing it weren’t so.
But of course it has to be so. Not only because the pace can’t continue, but also because students must move on to their next grade level or school and everyone needs a break so they can return to their classrooms refreshed in September. So, given the logic of this, why the melancholy?
In the work that Educator’s Ally does with independent schools, we’re privileged to witness first hand the 24/7 devotion displayed each and every day by educators. And every August, as classrooms are set up, and class lists are finalized, teachers are unable to disguise their excitement as they speak to us about new initiatives and tweaked curriculum and the fast approaching start of the new school year. As teachers review lesson plans, and Deans of Faculty welcome newly hired educators on board, there’s an undeniable sense of promise. Students will be engaged, minds will be opened, and 21st century learning will happen. And it does!
The school year buzzes along, and along the way obstacles are overcome and students are reached and progress is made. But, all of the sudden, before anyone’s quite ready, the end of the school year approaches and reality hits. As hard as everyone’s worked, and as much progress that’s been made, time is up. The work has to stop and the leave-taking must begin.
Educators are remarkable people. Whether they’re physics teachers or in loco parentis college counselors at boarding schools, they view the work that they do as an honor. To spend nine months with a student, helping him or her face challenges, and achieve success, is a gift. But it’s a temporary gift that must be returned in June, maybe just a few weeks before anyone’s ready to do so. The halls must fall silent again. And that’s just a little bit sad.