In the Suburbs / OMG it really is August
I realized as I was completing this piece that my six-week Upward Bound program was over, except for our closing banquet on Thursday, and August was here. We’re closing in on barely four more weeks of summer before we face those happy (yeah, right) smiling faces of our students again and another school year will begin.
The strongest reminder for me was my principal’s email late last week, providing three August dates for professional development prior to the start of the school year. One of those is next Thursday, the day after my 74th birthday, and the second two days are slightly later in the month.
Another reminder was when I walked into Target earlier this week and saw the store filling quickly with school supplies. I’m so glad those days are over, but I have great empathy for the moms and dads who now have to buy supplies from lists required by the schools.
I have been collecting a whole group of school supplies from our move that I will be donating to my school in Bridgeport. The newspapers have announced that school budgets are very tight this year, so the pencils, pens and composition books that I will be providing should come in very handy, since many of our students may not be able to afford some of these supplies. I feel very good that I can make this kind of a donation and I try to continue the practice throughout the school year.
My role this year, as it was last year, will be as a paraprofessional and teaching assistant, working with one or two seniors in all classes. I will also provide writing coaching to seniors on their required senior projects, which will be presented late next May or in early June.
I started to fill out teaching applications in Fairfield, Bridgeport and Milford in July. But my class at Upward Bound was a busy one, so I didn’t get to complete all the applications. Now that August has arrived, I plan to resume that effort, since many positions open up at the end of the summer, when teachers may decide to retire or move to another district.
This summer has definitely emboldened me as a teacher, and I believe I can survive the classroom environment at the high school level, whether it’s in an urban or suburban environment. I taught five classes, two days a week, and was rarely tired.
A new late August activity this year will be assisting my former neighbor with the orientation of new Chinese students at Fairfield Prep, where I have been tutoring exchange students for three years. Ironically, for this Jewish guy, I will be assisting mostly with theology orientation. Happily, I’ve learned a lot, but I still have much to learn.
On another front, each time I walk upstairs at the Fairfield University Bookstore, where I’ll be starting my sixth year on Aug. 12, I see that the textbook shelves are filling quickly with fall-semester books. Rush is just weeks away, and the store, which is plodding through the dog days of summer, will be filled with confused students and parents, buying books and merchandise to give students their new “Stags” identity.
The store is crazy busy nearly every day and our cash registers are ringing steadily from the purchase of sweatshirts (hard to picture in this heat), running shorts and T-shirts. “Ka-ching” quickly becomes our mantra as families stock up as their kids are getting settled.
I also love this time of year, because new freshmen are filled with so much anticipation and apprehension and returning seniors are moving one step closer to 2019 commencement. Those in the middle are generally just glad to be back on campus and starting a new year. All that will be underway before we know it in late August.
I chatted briefly this week with my colleague, Matt, who is a regular at the bookstore and teaches math, about August and whether there’s any significance to the month. He said we’re suddenly being inundated by television commercials and ads. I recalled a new commercial where parents were contacted by text to pick up back packs and meet their kids in front of a middle school for a great send-off to the year. .
Another thing he talked about was the onslaught of the cicadas, which apparently is an annual happening in August. I smiled and told Matt I’d keep my eyes open.
So August is underway, the dog days continue and within a couple of weeks, the summer will start to wind down. I’m ready.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.