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From the Principal’s Pen – December 2018

 Submitted by: Jennifer McGee

When I was a child, I lined up all of my dolls and stuffed animals, and I stood at the front of my bedroom and gave them all carefully crafted lessons. I read books aloud to them, holding the book and turning the pages just as I had watched my teachers do a thousand times. I wrote on the chalkboard, carefully forming my letters…just like my teacher. I walked around my “classroom” and placed stars on the tops of pages, and I collected the papers, and I tried to use all the words I had heard my teacher use. I adored my teachers, and to me, their words were “golden”. They are the reason I became a teacher.

When I first became an elementary school principal, I decided to spend the day with one classroom teacher, for the entire day, to really get a feel for how elementary school classrooms roll! Well…I am here to tell you, I was EXHAUSTED when I got home. I was in a first-grade classroom, and it was non-stop from the time the first child walked in that morning! The children, each child a unique individual, had such a range of abilities and interests. While some children were reading, others were learning letters. While some children loved their schoolwork, others could have cared less and just were living from recess to recess! While some children listened, others did not listen, at all. While I was feeling completely frazzled, the classroom teacher remained calm, and kind, and nurturing and responsive…to Each. And. Every. Single. Need. All, Day. Long.

Think about your own darling children. When my children were your children’s ages, if I could have been given 10 cents for every time I heard the words: “watch this. Watch me. Look, Mama,” well, I would be a very rich lady right now! And that is what happens in each and every classroom all day long. The children all want the adult attention….and somehow, they get it.

As the holiday season arrives, I want to dedicate this Principal’s Pen to all of the gifts our teachers and ed techs give to the children of Atwood Primary School. My favorite days are the quiet days at school. On those days, I am able to walk the hallways of Atwood and pop in and out of each classroom, watching the magic being carefully woven inside of every room, up and down the hallways. Every class has its own unique personality and feeling, sounds, sights, and tenor…but they all have one thing in common. The adults in all of the rooms had the same dream: to be a teacher, to work with children, to spend their lives creating a lifelong love of learning.

The teachers of Atwood (and yes, I am biased…) are a special crew. This is my 33rd year in education, and I have to say very honestly, these teachers are a daily inspiration to me. I believe what is unique…is they have a true affection and respect for one another, so although they work very, very hard…they also bring play and fun into every day, and this spirited environment inevitably trickles down to your children.

By this point in the school year, the teachers have really gotten to know your child…and possibly you as well. They have learned what types of books they like to read, they know what foods they bring for snack, they know who they play with at recess and what games they like to play. They know their attention span, who they should and should NOT sit next to, and, and, and,…and so many things that make your child, your child.

There is a term we learned in school law class. It was “in loco parentis”, which is a Latin term meaning “in the place of a parent.” Teachers, in fact, act in place of you during the school day. They take this role very seriously. They make sure jackets are zipped, they make sure mittens are on, they check to be sure everyone has used the bathroom before going to lunch, and they remind the children to wash their hands. They place the backs of their hands on hot foreheads to check for a fever, and give them food from their own lunches when snacks are forgotten, and they drop everything to celebrate when a tooth falls out of a bloody socket or when there is an announcement of a new pet in the family or a new baby brother or sister born.

And when we are not in school, they plan for when they are back in school. These teachers are constantly on Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, in the aisles of Barnes and Noble reading new children’s literature, they are texting each other ideas, emailing each other links to watch, and inevitably, they are in their classrooms…painting, decorating, planning, rearranging, organizing, and preparing for the return of your children.

Last week, I stood in my office window and watched the playground. No one knew I was watching. Kindergartners were running and playing and squealing and shrieking in delight. My eyesight isn’t great…..so it took me a minute to realize what I was watching. It was Friday afternoon, and a teacher was playing tag with her children. At the end of a busy week, she too was racing and chasing and tagging, right along with the kids!

Nothing is ever perfect in a school. Nothing ever will be perfect. Being a teacher is not like being almost anything else. There is no finish line. There is no time when your job is really done. Teachers don’t get to spike the football. There is always more work that can be done. There is always one child that you still need to reach.

But this holiday season, I just want to pause and reflect on my gratitude for the team of educators we have at Atwood Primary School. Although we are not perfect, there is nowhere else I would rather be. Their life’s work is your children. As a child in my basement, my dream was to be a teacher. I am willing to bet…some of your children are at home, in the evenings and on weekends, pretending they are some of the teachers they have encountered here at Atwood.

In the Spirit of Gratitude,

Jenny McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School December Dates to Note:

Falalala Fridays!

Friday, December 7: Dress Like and Elf, Bring Food for the Shelf Day…on this day, have your child dress in green and red…elf-like, and bring any non-perishable food donation for our local food pantry

Friday, December 14: On this day, we go to Messalonskee High School to enjoy a holiday concert…your children love to dress up of the occasion! We do too!

Friday, December 21: Come get into the holiday spirit at 1:00p.m. by enjoying our Atwood Annual Holiday Show! Have your child wear red today…for the final Falalala Friday!

December 24 – January 1: Holiday Break – NO SCHOOL!

Coming Events at Atwood Primary