High School Column: Embarking on an Incredible Journey

By Ralph Mayo

As I enter my forty-third year as an educator, I still have those weird dreams about the opening of school. I vividly remember one of those dreams where I am looking for a book in the Greenwich High School Media Center, but then realize that I am supposed to be teaching a class. I can’t seem to find my way out of that building and by the time I do get to my class I have completely missed it. Teachers across the country have told me that they have had similar nightmares about their transition back to work after an extended absence. Our students must be experiencing the same types of anxiety as they prepare to return to school. There are many reasons why we have such a visceral reaction to the beginning of the school year. This is a joyful time for teachers and students alike as they make a seamless transition back to their schools.

Transition often means change and as my Assistant Principal said to me many years ago “only wet babies are truly receptive to change”. This is a great time of year where we look forward to making new friends and reconnecting with old ones, it’s a time of year where we can update our wardrobes and purchase school supplies. It is also a time where we can try a new activity or club as well as determining how we can be of service to our community.

Each new school year gives us all a fresh start or a clean slate where we can establish both personal and academic goals that will help us realize our potential. This is not what we want to think about as we enjoy our last few precious days of summer vacation, but developing a structured meaningful plan that we can adjust as we move through the year is both exciting and gives us a sense of purpose, which should help to reduce the stress that we feel as the first day of school gets closer and closer.

It is very important to remember for all of us to use the resources (teachers, parents, clergy, family members) available to make a successful transition to a new school or grade level. If you want something to change don’t procrastinate, remember that nothing will change for the better unless you take action. The trusted adults in your life will teach you to advocate for yourself and will support you no matter the obstacle. Take action and speak up, don’t sit back and think that things will get better with time. They won’t. 

I often look at it this way, we are about to embark on an incredible new journey. Our ship leaves the dock very soon and will not return until the middle of June. Voyages can sometimes be rather bumpy as we plow through storms and other unexpected events. The ocean can also be quite delightful as we navigate through tranquil, beautiful waters. As long as we remain calm, stay on course, prepare for any eventuality, make use of our resources and remain in control of our ship there is really nothing that can stop us from returning to port while achieving all of the goals we had established for ourselves prior to embarking on this journey.

So, pack your things and be ready, we set sail on Thursday, August 29th.

Ralph Mayo is the Interim Headmaster of Greenwich High School.