CHILDERSBURG — I am proud to say I am finishing up my 28th year as a teacher. As many of my peers begin to retire, I am forging ahead toward another year. It has been a really good year and it has flown by this school year.
I welcomed over 130 kids to my classes in the first week of August. Some of them I knew and some of them I was meeting for the first time. As we worked together in the first hot days of August, we began forming bonds in each class. All the students were different. Some of the kids came in with long dreadlocks. A few came in with very short hair. Several students wore glasses. There were African American students, white students and Hispanic students. To me they were all unique young people who needed me and I needed them to get through each school day.
As days bled into weeks, they got to know me and I got to know them. We worked hard and laughed hard each day. We covered everything from Columbus discovering America to the shame of Watergate.
As August began to fade away, we looked forward to our first high school football game. School goes by much faster once high school football starts on Friday nights. It’s something to look forward to and a place for our students to go and be themselves with their peers for three hours.
By September I try to know who all is in the band and what instruments they play. I tell the football players that there is a direct relationship between their performance in class on Fridays and their performance on the field on Friday night. I use it as motivation.
By October the oppressive heat has left us and the first nine weeks is in the books. The classes are now running like a finely tuned Ford Pinto. At this point we are looking forward to our fall break for Talladega race weekend. The leaves are changing colors and I know much more about the students and they know more about their old teacher. Many of them don’t even know that I used to be the head basketball coach at CHS and that is just fine with me because that happy chapter of my life is in the books. No need to revisit it and tell them about my coaching career.
At this point I have given several of the students’ nicknames.
We blinked and the Christmas break has arrived for our school. Time for everybody to rest and relax.
The January to spring break stretch is a tough one. Cold weather and dreary days make for a long nine weeks. Basketball season is in full swing and by the end of the nine weeks the trees have started to bloom and spring sports seasons have arrived. Spring break sneaks up on the school and we get giddy waiting for that week out of school.
Spring break is a sneak peek at the end of the school year. The students will come back with sunburns and stories of their adventures over the break. Getting them focused again is a major task.
The last nine weeks is a blur with so many things going on around school. At this point I began to get a little depressed knowing that our time to together in class is coming to an end. The students know me and I know them. We have worked together for 180 days and just like that it will be over and summer will begin.
Without a doubt it’s has been a good year. I knew when it was time to walk away from coaching basketball and I have never looked back. Leaving teaching may not be such a clear-cut decision for me in the future. I might teach until they pry the chalk from my cold dead hand.
I will worry about that decision later. For now, I must get my tennis racket ready and my bike tires pumped up for my summer of fun.
I hope everyone has a great week.
Alvin Barnett is a history teacher at Childersburg High School.