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First Day of School 2016

First Day of School 2016

September 06, 2016

There are many challenges and hurdles to working in public education.  However, public education as an industry and as a profession has one unique advantage that most other industries and common professions do not have.  First Day. 


If you are a lawyer, banker, accountant, architect, police officer, manufacturing or service worker, manual laborer or middle management, there is no concept or corresponding analog to the First Day of School. 


Every year in every school, a new season starts on the First Day of School.  The day is truly unlike any other for the school and unlike any other for just about any other profession.  There’s a combination of hope and chaos that descends upon the First morning’s rapid tactical logistics of students, rosters, schedules, etc.  The chaos emerges despite the most detailed of plans laid in part because there are new, unexpected faces that show up in an urban school and there are expected faces that do not show up as well on the First Day.  These new and missing faces must be accounted for by both returning and new staff who are trying to quickly recalibrate and account for every single name and face before them and those that are not. 


Imagine if a church or synagogue had to account for every name and its placement on a Sunday morning service?  If that was not hard enough, imagine having to do that after not meeting for 2 months and doing it with a combination of returning and brand new staff?  Imagine doing this for say a music concert or a sporting event? You begin to understand the orchestra conduction skills required on the First Day to eventually turn this into a beautiful symphony. 


Parents drop off their children with the highest of hopes on the First Day.  New uniforms, backpacks and supplies line the premises.  New friendships start and old friendships continue on the First Day.  Everyone has a clean slate and a fresh start. 


I love the First Day.  Hope springs eternal.  Vision, norms and culture begin to “set the nail” for what we will hammer day in and day out.  There’s energy on this day unlike any other day of the year.  How often does one get to completely reset one’s professional life and career path?  In most professions, years flow into one another and each year looks perhaps only incrementally different from the last.  There’s no such thing as a reset in vision, culture and hope in most industries.  But in public education, we have a hard reset every year on the First Day of school. 


Today marks the First Day of School for the 2016-17 school year for all of Matchbook Learning’s schools in Newark and Detroit.  Vision, culture and hope are the fuel that powers our First Day today.