I met three brand new teachers on Saturday while showing them my rental house.  They were good-looking, excited, eager young men, and so refreshing to talk to. Two are right out of college, and the third one is in the “PACE” program, a career changer.  They were articulate, well-read, and enthused.  They will probably make excellent teachers.
    “Welcome to the teaching field,” I told them, and I meant it sincerely.  The end of summer always makes me anxious to get back to school.  The ads for school supplies tempt me to go buy the giant pack of perfectly sharpened crayons, with no broken pieces or missing colors.
    The opening of school creates in me a feeling of optimism, expectation, and uncertainty, almost like Christmas, even.  The weeks of summer go by with waiting, preparation, speculation about schedules and the “best” teachers to get.  It all builds to a crescendo on the first day of school.
    Thirty-five years ago, (I had to check the math several times, I couldn’t believe it either) I was a brand new teacher in Beaufort.  I was hired a week before school started at Lady’s Island Elementary by Mr. Samuel DeVeaux, who informed me that music teachers were “cut” that year, but what about taking a 1st grade?  Sure, I thought, how hard could it be?  Two days later, it was changed to 3rd grade, but he told me they were the “slow” group, so it would be just the same.  I was naïve enough to believe him.
    I worked feverishly to get ready for school, and it felt like a fever too.  There was no air conditioning in the school back then, except for the principal’s office.  With his permission, my daddy put a small window unit in my room a few weeks later. I put my desk right next to it.  I later found it I had made a huge faux pas with the other teachers by doing that.
    What happened that year was that I fell in love with teaching. I was hooked.  I loved the children, who were all indeed “slow,” poor, from rural isolated homes, but ready to learn.  The Open House was memorable.  Only two parents came. . .mine!
    The way I made it through the year was to run next door and copy everything the tall, regal black lady next door did.  Her name was Miss Marie Washington, and what a lifesaver she was.  I can only wish that every new teacher has a Miss Washington next door to learn from, copy, share with, and cry on her shoulder.
    So welcome new teachers!  Best wishes, and know that we wish we could pay you what you’re worth to us.  You are entrusted with our priceless children, ours only for a little while, but in your hands they will spend more hours a day than in ours.  Teaching is an extremely challenging job nowadays, but a calling like no other.  I hope your year goes well.   And I hope you fall in love with it.