Heading back to school is often a mix of emotions for students and teachers alike. For many students, the end of summer is bittersweet, nostalgia for mid-week sleepovers and late night pool parties setting in as soon as August rolls around. But there’s also something to be said for heading back to school. With each new year comes the chance to see old friends and start fresh with a new teacher, a new classroom and a new perspective.
Teachers get excited to see coworkers again, catch-up on summer happenings,and meet a batch of new students, alive with energy and ready to learn. We caught up with some teachers from Sunset Middle School in south Longmont to learn what their favorite back to school moments are and what they most look forward to about the first week.
Principal Anthony Barela describes his favorite part of the school year as witnessing the students change since the end of the last school year. “I love seeing the kids. I love seeing their faces. You’ll have kids that start off with us in sixth grade and they just blossom into these amazing people.”
Eighth-grade teacher Sean McMullen, who earned teacher of the year recognition for Sunset Middle School in 2018, delights in the excitement and eagerness that a long summer vacation generates, stating that his favorite part about the beginning of the year is “the enthusiasm that the students have. It’s fresh. You get to start over and learn from what you feel like you could improve on.”
Most teachers agreed that Sunset’s hallways take on this palpable energy that seemingly fills the entire school. Assistant Principal Mary Ellen Graziani explains it perfectly, “My favorite feeling is that buzz, that energy of all the kids coming in. They’re nervous and excited, they haven’t seen each other for a while. The whole building vibrates with life, that’s my favorite feeling about going back to school, when they all come back.”
For other teachers, they remember what it was like to be a kid with a new school year on the horizon. School counselor Pedro Linsenmeyer remembers the feeling like it was yesterday, “Growing up in the midwest, going back to school was closure to the wonders of the Missouri summers - the fireflies, the nights playing tag in the heat, fishing in the evening for catfish. School was just closure to those wonderful, fun summer days as a kid playing outside. I think it is bittersweet. On the flip side, it was always a pleasure to be back at school, reconnecting with friends.”
Middle school art teacher Jason Turner recalls fondly, “As a kid, I was excited when my best friends were in class with me, and finding out my class schedule. As a teacher, I appreciate the schedules, the regimine. I like going back to school and being refreshed after the summer.”
Other teachers enjoy reconnecting with their “work family”, catching up on summer stories, and sharing the excitement of a new year. Sunset Middle School is more than an educational institution, but a home away from home. Teachers and staff consistently strive to make each and every student feel welcome, respected, and cherished.
Erika Schimmel loved blank notebooks. “I always liked blank notebooks because it was the beginning of something and I was going to fill it in.” A new school year provides a similar table --- tabula rasa — each student’s mind clear from a relaxing summer, ready to absorb lessons from favorite teachers, who are also recharged after a much-deserved break.