First day of school is almost here!!! I LOVE SCHOOL. I’ve always had an inexplicable connection to, not just learning, books, students and the overall notion of school, but the actual physical structure – the school hallways, classrooms, courtyards, cafeterias, band rooms, P.E. fields, and (of course) the library which all bring me literal and utter joy in the form of embarrassingly, toothy smiles that stretch across my face every time I’m at, or even near, a school.
When people ask me, what my favorite part of the year is, my answer always strikes everyone as bizarre. They expect my response to adhere to the few typical choices: holidays, birthdays, or Summer vacations. Still I hold my head high, shoulders proud, eyes focused and declare, “Fall is my favorite time of year because it marks the beginning of school.” After almost three decades knee-deep in the world of teaching and learning, I’m happy to discover that the first day of classes is still the most exciting for me. Before the trees begin their multicolored transformation from the deep green of Summer to the reds, oranges, yellows, and golden browns, I find myself walking the isles of office supply stores and booksellers. Before each carefully placed seat is filled with a new young face, I indulge in joys that seem specific only to me: the subtle invitations of unsharpened pencils, colored ink pens, and paper clips. The packs of paper demanding to be freed from their tightly wrapped plastic prisons and filled with short stories, quadratic formulas, diagrams, vocabulary quizzes and more. But there’s nothing in the world like the smell between the pages of a book. I often hold it up and take a deep breath into the crisp, newness of its bound sheets (peering over the top of the book to make certain no one catches me during this very personal act of lunacy). This aroma sends my imagination running through fields of old, forgotten fairytales, cherished stories, and memorable journeys alike. A good book can be better than a good friend. After all, when was the last time your friend whisked you away to a new undiscovered land filled with adventure and promises. When did they introduce you to great tragic heroes, or beautifully sad characters that beg to be remembered for all time.