Back to School


There is a moment every year for families with children, that clearly mark the transition from summer vacation to the real world. Many of you are thinking that moment is the start of the NFL season, but many of you would be wrong. The celebration of Labour Day is also the pre-celebration of children going back to school.

Now that was true for most of the parents in North America with one exception. The Halton School Board declared the Tuesday of this year a PD day. For those who do not remember what a PD day is, a PD day is a day for educators to hone their educating skills to ensure that they are the best teachers they can be. These days normally occur on the Friday before a long weekend but this year the board decided that the Tuesday immediately following the Labour Day Monday, was an ideal day for teachers to professionally develop.

This seems like the perfect moment to discuss the words, “perception” and “optics”.

There is not a parent living who does not want their children to have exceptional teachers. Every school board has a responsibility to ensure the teaching staff have adequate training to ensure every teacher is the highly skilled educator our children deserve.

I can imagine the conversation at the school board meeting that introduced the idea of having a PD day on the very first day of school. The board must have applauded this idea as a true demonstration of their commitment to the children of their schools. The end of the meeting probably ended with high fives, the playing of Queen’s “We are the Champions” as a final tribute to this decision to professionally develop the teachers on the first day of school. Here is where perception and optics are important. The board members, the principals, the vice-principals, the trustees and all of the teachers may have concluded the brilliance of this idea, but let me share with you how every working parent interpreted this idea.

“Let me get this straight. You have all been on vacation for over two months while the rest of us have been working in the sizzling heat.   After surviving two months with our children you are not going to let them go back to school?   It is like you are saying to us, I know we have had 70 days to prepare for our next class of students, but if you don’t mind, we could really use one more day, and then we promise we will be ready to teach your children!”  Perception and optics are curious things.

Let me end this little rant with my favourite story about going back to school. I am absolutely guilty of plagiarisim here, because this is not an original story. My problem is I do not recall the original source of this one. It might have been from a funny uncle. I may have heard this on the radio years ago when I was a courier and the radio was my only friend. It also may have appeared in a very old Reader’s Digest magazine that were readily available at doctors offices, as you wait forty five minutes for your appointment.  Here is the story from the unknown.

A young mother was very concerned about her daughter’s first day of school. Her concern was valid as her darling little girl was an only child. She had been in the care of her mother and father since the day she was born.

To address this idea of abandonment she devised a plan. Everyday during the summer she took her child to the park. The elementary school that her daughter was to attend on the day after Labour Day, was directly across the street from the park. After her time at the park, the mother would walk across the street and walk around the school with her daughter. As the two walked casually around this school the mother would always stop at the windows of the kindergarten class.

She would lift her daughter up high enough so that the little child could see the classroom. The mother would gently point out the desk she would be sitting in. She pointed out with great detail the play areas she would be playing in. She saw paint and crayons, and would explain to her daughter that she would get to colour and paint things in her class. She noticed a lot of toys in a box and told her daughter that there would be a lot of time during her first day of school, where she would get to play with a lot of toys as part of her day.

Every day that summer the mother would make this trip to the school to help prepare her young one for that fearful day when she would have to leave her house and attend school.

As the first day of school neared, the young girl seemed more than confortable with the new school, the set up of her class room. and the new concept of leaving home to go to a foreign environment for half a day.

The mother beamed with pride as she took solace in the fact that she had more than over prepared her little four and half year old daughter to attend her first day of school.

The big day finally arrived and to the mother’s surprise, her daughter had got up very early and was already dressed for the day. Mother was very pleased that her daughter had not shrivled in fear on this morning, but actually demonstrated excitement as another confirmation of the pre work the mother had done in preparation for this day.

The two walked to the elementary school, and of course there were tears displayed from the mother as she let go of the girl’s hand when she walked into the school. There were not tears shed from the daughter, and as the mother walked home, she realized that her daily two month routine paid off that morning.

The very next day, it was time to go to school and the mother went to her daughter’s room to help her with her second day of school. To the mother’s surprise, the daughter was fast asleep. The mother decided to let her daughter sleep a few more minutes, thinking that she must be emotionally exhausted from her first day of school. She just stood and stared at her beautiful student with the loving look only mothers can display. A few minutes later that loving parent gently shook her sleeping daughter to help wake her up as the school hour approached.

“Darling, it is time to get up.” The mother whispered.

There was little response from the sleeping beauty.

The mother shook the sleeping daughter with a little more force and repeated, “Darling it is time to get up.”

The daughter rubbed her little eyes and seemed slightly confused as the mother said, “Darling time to wake up and go to school.”

The daughter looked at her mother with sleepy eyes, matched with a very sleepy voice and simply replied. “What? … Again!”


Cue the Blong:  Yes that is White Oaks Secondary School in the picture.

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