Wednesday, September 14, 2011
For those of us with children, or educators ourselves, we are back in the full swing of school. Some of us have been in school for nearly a month now. Since the First grade, I have absolutely loved the first day of school! I now get to relive the first day of school with my girls—my youngest started kindergarten this year, and boy was that exciting! But, as a college professor, I get to experience a “first “day twice a year. Of course the first day of school is really my second favorite day after commencement, and the first day of the spring semester is not as exciting as the first day of the fall semester. Nonetheless, I love the first day because of the new beginnings it represents.
My kindergartner, four weeks later, is still excited about what she is learning every day. She is most excited about reading. This week, as we were reading a story together, she stopped at every sentence with a question mark to gleefully declare, “It’s a question mark! It’s asking a question!” This is a new beginning for her. I am excited when most of my students are determined to get an “A” at the beginning of the semester. Among other courses, I teach the introductory course to the mass communication major and an upper-level course. This means I have the privilege of teaching most majors in my department twice. And, unfortunately, sometimes I have them twice because they have to repeat a class. Recently, I graded the first assignment in my upper-level course. About 80% of the students I have had before in other classes, so I am aware of some of their academic strengths and weakness. I held my breath when I got to Bobby’s paper (of course that is not his really name); Bobby’s work has been less than stellar in the past. Finally, I got to the end, and I could let out my sigh. Bobby followed the directions. Bobby completed the assignment. Bobby earned all his points. Bobby and I are experiencing a new beginning! I am secretly rooting for Bobby because I never take pleasure in seeing a student repeat a class.
The first day of school reminds my relationship with the Lord. He offers me new beginnings all the time. Despite the fact that I have fallen short, or I have said something I shouldn’t have said, or thought many of thoughts I should not have, He offers me new beginnings. One of my favorite lines in the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is “Morning by morning new mercies I see…” I am glad I don’t have to rely on the mercies of yesterday, last week or last, year. Instead, I can count on brand new mercies-- new beginnings. Is there an area or relationship in your life that can stand a new beginning? Now is the time to make that happen. And guess what? It is awesome we don’t have to wait until the first day of school.
Shauntae Brown White is an associate professor at North Carolina Central University in the Department of English and Mass Communication. She is married to the Rev. Dr. Harry L. White, Jr. who pastors Watts Chapel Baptish Church in Raliegh, NC.