There is something beautiful about a fresh start.
A newborn baby with a clean slate.
The first gleam of the sun on a new morning.
An empty page waiting to be written on.
Doesn’t the beginning of school feel like that? Everything’s new. It’s a fresh start for all of us. As I look around my classroom, the “sharp” cup for pencils is full – all of them anticipating making their first marks. Crayons still have their points and their full wrappers. Bulletin boards are empty, ready to exhibit our learning. Each desk has a nametag, but no substance yet. Journals are blank, scissors are in packages, and our charts are bare. The floors are still shiny from their summer waxing, unsullied from the muddy feet that are to come.
And I am new too. Each August I get a chance to begin my school year as the teacher I want to be. The lethargy I felt in April is gone. The mistakes I made last year are wiped away and I get a fresh slate — sparkly and brand new. I get the opportunity to introduce myself to 21 little people who I will spend the next 9 months with.
One looks me square in the eye and shakes my hand.
Another hides behind his mom, peeking out from between her legs, trying to size me up.
A little girl shyly whispers, “Do you still have your turtle?”.
A boy marches in like he owns the place, and gives his dad the grand tour.
Each child comes in with a story. Their story. It’s theirs to tell and theirs to share. I am so blessed to get to help them tell it. And just as importantly, I get to be a character in it. I get a role in this chapter of their story — a chance to impact the way the rest of their novel will play out. I can play the nemesis, throwing obstacles and discouragement in their way. I can choose to tear them down and spend my days just getting by.
Or I can choose to be the one to make the difference. The one who stands beside them against all odds — encouraging them, believing in them, pushing them to do things they never imagined they could. I can be the one who gives them the only hug they’ll get that day. I can be the one who tells them I’m proud of them when they feel like they don’t deserve it. I can be the one who helps light the flame of a passion for learning. I can be the one to say, “You’re a reader!” when they didn’t think they could be. I can be the one who shows them a little piece of Jesus’ love for them. Lord, in this new year, help me be the one.