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Soucheray: The school bell rings again

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School started yesterday in the South Washington County Schools of Woodbury. Is that a collective sigh I hear? Summer is so grand and offers so many opportunities for connection with our children, friends, and neighbors.

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But sometimes, let's be real, it's nice when school starts.

There is a sense of rightness about the weather getting cooler, the days getting shorter, and school starting. This is the latest date on which school can start in public schools, due to Labor Day falling on Sept. 7.

The school supplies have been on sale since July. New school clothes have hung in closets since August. And the day is finally here. We bring our kids back to those wonderful schools, located in the heart of our neighborhoods. We visit with all the other parents who have walked, biked, or driven their kids to school. And then we head home to clean up the kitchen, off to work, or school ourselves.

This is such a right of passage for families in America, we often take it for granted. To have the guarantee of a high-quality, public education is a right we have been given, and yet we do not always realize the gift that it is.

The teachers who taught our children in the South Washington County Schools were all-together fabulous. We felt privileged to have the dedicated, hard-working, and attentive teachers to which our children were assigned. It was truly amazing - year after year, classroom after classroom - we experienced devoted, enthusiastic teachers

I could list the qualities of each teacher and how he or she influenced the lives of our children. These teachers inspired our children to become interested in science, math, and reading through the expectations they set and the assignments they gave.

At the time that our children were young, I was at home with them. I became a frequent volunteer in their classrooms, cutting, sorting, and doing other tasks for the teacher. I was also involved in the PTA and had the privilege to help with the Science Fair and Junior Great Books, be a classroom volunteer, as well as chaperon for numerous field trips.

I know this is a busy time. We are trying to get our houses put back together after three busy months with kids underfoot every day. We may have put off finishing a project until we had more time to ourselves.

This is also the time to contact your child's teacher and ask how you can help in the classroom. The more parents who call, the less work there is for everyone to do. The teacher will have small and large jobs available for parents who can volunteer an hour or an afternoon. They will be able to use everyone who steps forward.

When our kids see us out in the hallway, or as we peak our heads into the classroom, they look at us with pride and admiration. You see, we are giving our time not only to help the teacher; we are also giving our time to benefit our own children, as well.

Think about contacting your child's teacher and ask how you can be of assistance in his or her classroom this year. The gratification you will receive from offering your time in this way will yield rewards well into the future, both in terms of helping your own child and by giving the example that this is what adults do: they give to others in meaningful ways.

Kate Soucheray is a Woodbury resident.

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