First day survivors

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“I’m taking survivor shots,” I announce entering new PHS teacher Christina Mann’s room with my camera. Our new PHS Spanish and ELL teacher, Mann is chatting with math teacher Anna Laura Dyer.

“Talked too much, walked too much,” Dyer says.

“First day blues,” I sympathize. “Now you’ve shared your expectations. Students will know what to do tomorrow.”

“I am so tired,” Mann says, “but the kids were great.”

English teacher Katie Borland echoes that sentiment when I find her in the hallway. “I have a really good group,” Borland says.

“I think this was my best first day ever,” AP Bio teacher Lee Short agrees. “I have several kids that I had in freshman biology. It makes such a difference when the kids know your expectations.”

“I have the same situation in my junior classes this year,” Borland says. “I had many of them as freshman.”

A teacher new to us from another system says, “The kids are great.”

My end-of-the-first-day visits usually find teachers either elated or challenged. This year, the scale seems to be tipped heavily towards elated. While I did hear lots of broad statements, I’ve spent enough time teaching summer camps and sessions I know what these teachers mean.

Pelham’s kids are great. Most of them are respectful, kind and eager to learn. As a teacher, I know that I owe a debt to parents who do all of the seriously difficult work of instilling stellar character traits before their kids start elementary school. Elementary and middle school teachers add to students’ skill set by building a love for learning, their own content material and organizational skills.

When students arrive at PHS, they’re ready to dig deeper into knowledge and experience. They begin to realize the sacrifices necessary to complete the difficult work of reading, writing, reflection and study. They also begin to look ahead anticipating college and careers.

As high school teachers, we must go the extra mile to add interest and life application to difficult skills and content. After summer training, we’re ready for the adventure of learning.