Welcome Back!

Ever since I left teaching on the last day of school in June of 2001, I have kept a tradition. On the first day of school, I call an ex-colleague and dear friend who retired that year and we commiserate. I wouldn’t trade my current job or mission for anything in the world. But there is still an unsettling feeling when the buses start passing you in early autumn and you know that you’re no longer part of the frenetic, exhilarating chaos that is the beginning of the school year. My friend and I spend some time catching up and talking about old times, but the underlying current to the conversation is, “What the heck am I doing here when I should be there?”

You have to understand I spent 27 years caught squarely in the ebb and flow of the school year. Even today, when a bell rings, I stop what I’m doing and go do something else. It’s quite Pavlovian and can cause confusion among those who haven’t been there.

With the passing of the Labor Day weekend, all EAST schools have resumed classes. I’ve fought off some of my bewilderment by getting on the road and visiting—especially our new EAST schools. The sights, sounds, and smells are comforting and familiar. Every new school year brings expectation and anticipation.

student technical training

Student technical training at the EAST Training Center, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Here at the national offices for the Initiative, we share that same excitement, but in a slightly different way. We are gearing up for student technical training, EAST Night Out, the national conference and the hundreds of other things that connect our students and schools to each other. I’ve already heard about some incredible projects and met some impressive students. The year is young, but it looks like it is shaping up to be another whirlwind of achievement. Over the next nine months, together we will see accomplishments and share in the joys and heartaches that are the soul of education.

The EAST staff has been ready for the start of the school year since shortly after the end of the last one. We’re thrilled that it’s finally upon us. So from me and mine: Welcome back… We’ve got work to do.


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