It is hard to believe that it is that time of year again. Registration is complete. Supplies and lunch boxes have been purchased. Some children are excited, others are scared. Moms and Dads are happy to get the kids out of the house and into a routine. Friday nights at the lake will turn into Friday nights under the lights. Yep, it’s that time. It is back to school.
I always enjoy seeing the “First Day of School” photos that flood my social media channels. The beautiful smiles, new outfits and the endless possibilities that exist for each student for the year are a great change from the hatred-filled political posts and “my way or no way” opinions that are the everyday social norm. I would like to see, however, more photos of adults going back to school too. No, I am not expecting you to go back to get another degree or improve your education. I want you to go back to school to pour into the live of our children, the future leaders of this world.
The landscape of public schools has changed a lot over the years. The small schoolhouse classrooms of “Little House on the Prairie” have transformed into classrooms that are full and literally busting at the seams. Poverty continues to grow and studies show that almost 1 in 4 children are living at or below the poverty line in the United States. Students who are not getting enough to eat or enough sleep cannot focus on their education. They struggle and ultimately fall behind leading them to dropout of school. Increases in technology (social media and cell phones especially) have made bullying easier than ever. Children can hide behind their smart phone or a computer screen as they torment and destroy other children. Attitudes and behavior are at all-time low inside the four walls of a school. Students regularly disrespect teachers and administration. Drugs and alcohol, rape, and assault have replaced talking too much, chewing gum, and running in the halls as “common” school behavior problems. Budget cuts and lack of funding have reduced the size of school staff and services provided for students. Lastly, parent involvement, in many cases, is not where it needs to be. In fact, it is non-existent in many schools around the country.
Does this sound like a successful recipe for academic success? The answer is simple: NO. We cannot sit back and let it continue. Our children deserve better. It isn’t the responsibility of schools and teachers to fight this battle alone. It is going to take a community to see real change. It is going to take you and me, our friends, families, co-workers, and anyone else we can recruit to make this happen. We all have to be involved.
Some of you are probably saying “no way, I hated school. They were the worst days of my life.” And to that, I would say exactly. Take your experiences and use them to help those who are probably struggling with the same things. Our children need us in schools. Teachers need our support. Administration needs our encouragement. Our communities will be better if YOU go back to school. Give an hour a week or a couple of hours a month. Invest what you can invest. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of children. They love having visitors in the classroom. They crave our attention, our approval, and our validation. Our presence gives children a vision of the future. A look at what they can be. We are firm believers that children cannot BE it if they cannot SEE it. They need to see successful professionals. They need to witness caring adults. They must experience more positive interactions and less of the negative. We make an impact by just showing up in a classroom. We make a difference by showing students that we care.
So, are you ready to go back to school? I am. I will be reading to 2nd grade and kindergarten classes monthly at a local inner city school, teaching Junior Achievement classes, and mentoring during lunch. In addition, I will be traveling across the midwest sharing life-giving messages in an effort to show all children that they have value and that their lives matter. Will you join me in my efforts to impact the next generation? Will you go back to school? If so, I hope you will post your “First Day of School” photo for all to see.