It’s back-to-school time, and we wish our students, teachers the best

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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It’s August and back-to-school time, not only in Elizabethton and Carter County, but across the country.
Where has the summer gone!
Maybe it’s the sigh of brakes from a yellow bus at the corner, or the sight of fresh crayon boxes lined up in the store. Or perhaps it’s just the crisp feel of the air – something about these early-August days can bring a shimmer of that old back-to-school feeling. Even those of us who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in years can still remember, if only for a moment, that mix of excitement and jitters, the weight and potential of a new beginning.
It’s a heart-warming moment – meeting new teachers, seeing friends again. But, for some there are the usual fears of school violence, specifically school shootings.
No place is completely safe, but schools are the safest place overall for children to be when not at home with a caring, responsible adult.
Local actions are increasing the odds of keeping students safe on the way to school, in school and during after-school activities. For example, local schools have spent tens of thousands of dollars in the past two summers to improve security and dedicated school resource officers are the norm today.
Rest assured that your community is taking steps to ensure that students have a safe environment in which to do their best as they head back to school.
Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly passed strong school security measures into law during the 2023 legislative session, which include significant funding to support placing a full-time armed school resource officer at every public school and making physical security improvements at public and non-public schools across the state.
A reminder: The community is still dealing with COVID, so there is a need to keep students and teachers safe, healthwise. If your child is sick, keep them at home as a precaution.
It’s been a tough few years for most schools during the pandemic period. Schools in particular were nearly devastated. Some students have struggled. But things are finally returning to normal. In the digital age where various means of technologies are available for education, human contact nevertheless is important for children because schooling is not just about academic learning. At schools, children form relationships out of their family boundary for the first time and learn to live as a community member. We are relieved that schools are finally returning to normal.
Teachers are both anxious and excited about the new school year. They, too, are carrying a lot with them as they head back to school. They are there for the students and most teachers want to see their students excel. Teaching can’t happen without teachers. Kids who have fallen behind need instruction and attention – and their needs won’t magically disappear when federal pandemic relief money runs out. We must commit to fully funding our schools. Reducing class sizes, investing in tutoring, and adding support staff are part of the solution. So is boosting pay for workers in after-school programs, which give kids a safe place to go and help keep them on track academically. Smaller class sizes – and better staffing – also make for safer schools.
However, schools and teachers need the cooperation of parents. It means adjustments at home. In some ways, parents go back to school with their children. Schedules have to be adjusted. Make time for your children; see that they get enough sleep and, get help with their homework. When parents are more engaged in their child’s schoolwork, they are better able to support them through it.
As teachers and parents, we all need a little patience, a little civility, and maybe a little generosity of spirit. School children, after all, aren’t the only ones who could use a fresh start.
So, we say get there and make it a great year. And, if you’re driving, stop for school buses. Every time.

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