The final week of July has arrived, and in spite of more than a few decades of experience as a student and an educator, I find I again am experiencing that familiar blend of mixed and contrasting feelings –anticipation, excitement, anxiety and even a bit of fear - that always accompany the beginning of a new school year. The more relaxed and peaceful summer days will soon fade into the past, and the busyness and business of school life will again provide structure, focus, and purpose for my daily life. While there is always some regret that comes with the end of a fun summer, there also are the feelings of hope and optimism that arrive with the new school year – a new beginning, a blank slate waiting to be filled with exciting activity, meaningful challenge, and the pleasure of guiding our students through another important stage of their educational experience. While the upcoming year with our students certainly will be unpredictable and hectic at times, one joyful reality I have learned through years of experience is that it also will never be dull or monotonous.
I can remember the years when my children were young that the end of summer presented a welcome relief for all our family. My boys had had enough of vacation trips, visits with extended family, summer camps, and unstructured days of sleeping late and staying up late to enjoy movies or their favorite video games. We all needed and, if we were honest, wanted the structure and purpose that being back at school would provide. We were eager to be back with our friends and engaged in the variety of fun and exciting activities that our school community offers. Even now that I no longer have the challenge of preparing both my children and myself for school, I still have the sense that it is time to get serious and settled, to prepare for the adventure ahead.
I encourage parents to remember that even as they experience the relief of having their children reengaged in the learning process that the school year affords, throughout their PreK-3 through 12th grade experience, children want and need parental help for the transition back to school. In order to be successful students, kids of all ages need home to be a place of safety, structure, and support. Healthy breakfast to start the day; a regular place and time for homework preparation, reading, and studying; guidance for manageable involvement in co-curricular activities, family dinnertime together; age-appropriate chores to benefit cohesive family life; reasonable limits for screen time of all types; and sufficient time for rest and sleep are components that parents should strive to provide consistently, and especially as the year begins.
This summer I have enjoyed reading the two selections our School Counselors have chosen for this year’s parent book studies. Both authors emphasize the important role that parents must serve as mentors for their children. I do not think that this concept can be overemphasized in the fast-paced and complex culture in which we live. Parents do not serve children well by acting like their buddies or peers. Young people need the wisdom and emotional and spiritual guidance that come from their parents’ life experiences. They need their parents’ time and listening ears as well as their thoughtful limits, timely advice, and meaningful discipline. Mentoring young people is a challenging job, and I am grateful to work in a community where so many parents and teachers take this responsibility seriously and manage it with great skill and care. I hope to reassure our parents that a fine group of professionals in your school community welcomes partnership with you for the sacred job awaiting us in the new school year. August is approaching; here we go!
Lucy holds a B.A. degree in English from Millsaps College and a M.Ed. degree from Louisiana State University in school counseling. Additionally she maintains credentials as a Licensed Professional Counselor. After one year of teaching in the East Baton Rouge Parish School system, she joined Episcopal’s high school faculty in 1979. She has served Episcopal in a variety of capacities: high school English teacher, Upper School Counselor, Upper School Division Head, middle school English teacher, School Counselor, and her current role, Middle School Division Head. Throughout her tenure of leadership in the Middle School, she has taught sixth grade religion. She is the proud parent of two Episcopal alumni.