Exactly one year ago, the day was flowing smoothly, and I was ready to slap the “success” label onto the first day of school, when we received the call. As I was walking through the main office, Janie Lambert answered the phone, receiving word that some kids had been stung by bees up at Neill Clark (Rec Center next door). So, I sprinted up the path from here to there to the rescue. When I entered the building, I found 24 crying first graders and a couple adults in a panic. Several of the kids had shed their shirts, and the ladies who had arrived before me were applying salve by the bucket. The little tykes had stirred up a nest of yellow jackets, and the nasty little bugs had certainly gotten their revenge. Many in the class had been stung, several of them multiple times.
I made my best attempt to reassure a bunch of six-year-olds that this was just a temporary trial in their lives, and that in a few days, we would all look back in amusement. They were having no part of it. As a matter of fact, they all refused to go back outside at all. Since this was already the afternoon, and pickup was coming in less than an hour, we needed a plan. So, I decided that I would go get the HCA bus and pick up the kids so that they wouldn’t have to face their insect enemies on the way back to school by foot. With the parking lot full because of the number of excited first day of school parents, I couldn’t get the bus out of its spot, so I hopped in the van instead, thinking I could just make multiple trips. As I pulled up to the front door, I could see the scared little faces on the inside begin to lighten up with the belief that Mr. Robinson had saved them from the danger. That’s part of the beauty of little kids. They truly do believe that I have the power to do anything!
I went into the building, and got the first group of wounded, taking them out to the van. As I opened the van door, wouldn’t you know it…two wasps flew out! The kids went into a screaming frenzy, and ran back into the building. Back to square one. By this point, my dad nature begins to say, “Look, I know that you have had a tough time, but you are just going to have to suck it up and go outside!” Fortunately, Mrs. Peeler had arrived and became the soothing voice of sympathy and encouragement. She reassured the kids that Mr. Robinson had not intentionally brought more bees to torment them, and convinced them that the van ride was their best option. They reluctantly agreed and we finally made it back to school. Whew!
When I think back to first days of school in the 20 years since I started teaching, or even when I was a student myself, this one is certainly the most memorable. Every situation is a learning experience, and I certainly learned a lot of lessons that day, not the least of which is to check for yellow jacket nests in key places before school starts!
Today, we began our 17th year at Hickory Christian Academy. We welcomed over 390 students (including over 60 new ones) to our campus, and were immediately impacted by the increased numbers. Almost every classroom is full to capacity, even with two across the parking lot. And, as I looked into they eyes of each of these gifts from God, I was reminded of how important this task really is. These are real human beings, with a real future (on earth, and eternally). They have real emotions, real anxieties, real hopes, real dreams. And the Creator of the universe has allowed me to have a hand in molding these youngsters into the image of Jesus Christ.
What an honor and privilege it is to work alongside such wonderful teachers and administrators in ministering to wonderful families with wonderful children under the supervision of a wonderful God. Thank you for entrusting us with your kids again this year. I can’t wait to get to know every one of you a little better each day.
Today was a much smoother first day of school than last year. I did not see one bee all day. They probably were hiding in their nests after the earthquake! Summer is over…let the adventure begin!