Nose Prints | Mark’s Remarks


Here it is. I’m thinking this is probably my 11th or 12th column about the beginning of school.

I am celebrating the beginning of my 30th year of teaching this school year.

You ask why I’m celebrating? Many would say it’s because I only have a few years left to teach before retirement, and many would be right. But I’m also celebrating because I still enjoy my job, I still love kids and I’m still as excited to start a new school year as I always was.

That’s cause for celebration, right?

So for the 30th time, I came into my classroom in late July and early August. I spent an enormous amount of time looking at how to change seating arrangements, accommodate a few more students than I had last year and make some changes to strategies and lessons that didn’t quite work last year. 

For the 30th time, I set up things for parent orientation. Again, I tweaked things that I forgot to say last year or took out things I don’t plan on saying this year. I took notes to make sure I told parents things their kids need to know.

I hung up a few new decorations, dusted off my coffee pot and plugged it in, and made sure I had a supply of snacks in my cabinet for my daughter who hangs out after school while I finish up each day. 

As I was checking on a few things in the hallway, I noticed how clean everything seemed: the waxed floor, the scrubbed desks, new paint on some of the walls. As I walk down the hallway I smell the wonderfully waxed gym floor.  The guilty pleasure of new blacktop wafts in when you step outside. 

New, shiny, good smells of school starting.

I head back to my classroom and notice that the window on my classroom door is dirty. Upon closer inspection, I recognize a common sight this time of year: the infamous nose smudge.

I’ve had nose smudges on my classroom door for 30 years, too. I forget about them every year, but they always appear – especially after kiddos register and come to see their new classroom. I can tell the differing heights of my students by gauging the smudges and I’m pretty sure that some of the higher-up smudges belong to parents.

But who can blame them? I mean, we all want to know what’s coming up. We all want to know what the classroom we are spending the next nine months in looks like. We are excited and we press our nose against the window in anticipation.

We all do it.

I think we keep our nose pressed up against life’s window pane quite often.  We are ready to meet new people and new challenges.  We stand as close as we can and press up against change. 

And sometimes, we leave a smudge.

It is my hope that this school year brings new hope, new challenges and new successes to all our kiddos. I pray that they feel loved, cared for and empowered through our schools, and I indeed hope that a connection of some kind can be made with every one of them. 

Parents, get involved and work with your teachers. We need you. There isn’t a huge amount to do: communicate, support and care. If we do it together, we can help these kiddos make it.

That’s the real mark we want to leave on the window.

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