The big return back to school

From the Editor’s Desk

By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

LFE - Return to routine

Staff and students head back for the ‘Big School Return’ on September 6. Photo by Metro News Services

I long anticipated this month. As a mother with now two children attending school, I believed all summer long that September was to promise some normalcy in my life again – in our community again.

The summer has left many uncertainties – not knowing how many residents have returned; not knowing how much longer the community will have to wait until it actually ‘looks’ like the rebuilding has begun.

I remember back in May my oldest son asked a lot questions related to his school. He asked about his Kindergarten teacher. He was upset he left the Mother’s Day card he had made me behind. He asked about his classmates.

That last ‘official’ day for Fort McMurray’s students was mayhem. And my heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the educators throughout the region who played a special role in providing safety to our communities’ children.

In a regular school calendar year, education professionals usually get an extended holiday break to enjoy the summer holidays. This year, ours didn’t stop.

Throughout the evacuation and re-entry, they continued to facilitate meetings to come up with strategies to approach the new school year. They’ve acted as guidance councillors to many parents unsure of the immediate next steps to take.

They stayed behind to ensure each child made it safely into the arms of their loved ones before evacuating themselves. With concerns of their own life situations and challenges, they continued to be strong for our families.

And their dedication continues to be inspirational.

As I went to my sons’ school last Friday to speak with their principal and teachers, I learned that even though many didn’t ‘officially’ start work until August 29, the staff had been present for weeks preparing the school and their classrooms.

(I’m sure this rings true with faculty throughout the entire region).

Their passion and dedication gave me a giant feeling of relief. It reassured me of that summer-long feeling of knowing that once our children were back in school, we would feel a positive change – a necessary one – in our city.

I’ve been constantly reminded (and shown first-hand) how resilient children can be. I think this new school year will showcase this at a never-before-seen level. It’s something for all of us – whether we have children, or not – to be excited about.

It’s been a tough couple of months on us. And though our hardest times may continue for months or years to come, I can’t help to think of the well-known African Proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Our dedicated educators are not the only ones who are playing an important role of establishing a healthy and bright future for our children. We all are.

Now, more than ever, it’s on us to give our region’s children the best they deserve; and to help alleviate the ‘school weight’ our educators have carried.

Help can come from motorists keeping an extra watchful-eye for students walking to school, and also minding the school zone speed limits. Help can come from volunteering at the many upcoming school events… Help can come from simply sharing a smile.

Together, we can make this next transition an easy and exciting one.

– Connect Weekly –