First Day Jitters

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

First Day JittersWelcome back! It doesn’t matter how many years one is in education, the first day of school brings jitters to EVERYONE! Whether you are a new student to St. Francis, or a teacher with 26 years of experience (who will remain anonymous), the night before the first day is often restless. Will people like me? (I bet the kids wonder about this one, too.) What will my teachers be like? Will I get lost? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if I forget my locker combination? At least at St. Francis, kids don’t have to worry about that last one! 

Despite all these competing stressors in play, the first day on Tuesday was remarkably smooth! I can assure you that is no accident! We’ve all been here a full week before the kids return ensuring everything is in place and ready to go. From the New Faculty Orientation, to the newly revamped New Student AND New Parent Orientation, we strive to make sure everyone feels welcome, is included, and has all the information s/he needs. We have an astounding 35 new students this year, 25 in Middle School and 10 in Lower School, which I believe is a record! They will add energy and new personalities to our classrooms, and we will certainly keep our eyes out for them these first few weeks!

In addition to the new faculty you will want to meet, you may have trouble finding some familiar faces! As you walk through the building, you will see that some teachers have moved their classrooms and, in one case, combined their spaces. In the Lower School, our Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms have designed an amazing flexible space which they will all share. This idea was the brainchild of Andrew Frechette, Heather McGraw, and Annette Rudd, in an effort to best serve our youngest students while also making a variety of resources available to them. Come down and take a look at the new JK/K space if you have a chance!

Before long, we will be fully in the swing of things and humming along. Our athletes are practicing, and games start tonight. The SFS Drama Project fall play, Anne Frank and Me, will hold auditions next week, and Projects will start next week, too! For Lower School students interested in performing, your turn is coming. The ever-popular Lower School Choir, directed by the fabulous Kim Aberle, will be starting in just a few weeks. Stay tuned for information on all of these exciting opportunities. Also, we had our first Middle School morning meeting on Wednesday, and I could hear the kids’ voices from 50 yards away! We will also be electing our Lower School and Middle School Student Councils to join our 8th grade officers in the next week or two. This is a wonderful chance to get involved in a leadership position in the school, so you might encourage your child to consider running! And as a member of the Parent Association, you might consider volunteering for lunch help or a number of other slots! (Did I mention they filled our teacher’s lounge with Dunkin’ Doughnuts and coffee on the first day?)

I also want to take a moment to remind you about Shelly Jones’ new position! While Shelly is still teaching one section of 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, she has also assumed the role of Middle School Dean of Students. She is already making her mark, getting involved with many different aspects of the students’ lives, and is a great help to me. It was her idea to let the new 8th grade students have “top” lockers (which, trust me, is “big medicine”). Shelly will handle the routine discipline in the Middle School, but that is just one part of her role. She will be an advocate for ALL students and is intent on helping to elevate the overall student experience at St. Francis to even higher levels! While that may seem like a difficult task, if anyone can accomplish it, Shelly can. Please welcome her to her new position and here’s to a “Happy New Year!”