Moore column: The back-to-school story my daddy loved to tell

-A A +A

Dr. Gene Moore is superintendent of Lancaster County School District.

My daddy loved to tell the story of my first day of school.
Loved to tell how he came home from work that night and asked me, “Gene, how was school today?”
Loved to tell how I stood there, looked up at him and said, “I really didn’t like it. I don’t think I want to go back tomorrow.”
He’d always chuckle after that, and then he’d always – always – tell how he looked at me and said, “But, Gene, you’ve got to go. If you don’t, your mama and me will get in trouble.”
He loved to tell that story and point out that I’d pretty much spent the rest of my life in school.
Now, every year as we start school, I remember that story.
Remember how important it is for our teachers to make that first day as exciting and inviting and rewarding for students as possible.
And I know our teachers will.
I know I’ll walk through our schools that first day, and I’ll be impressed.
Impressed by hallways and classrooms covered with colorful posters and pictures and charts and sayings that seem to say, “This is a cool, exciting, interesting place to be – a place where learning is fun.”
Impressed by teachers standing at their doors, smiling, welcoming students back, sending the message, “We care about you, and we’re here to help you.”
Impressed by the first-day activities I see going on, activities that have students solving and reading and thinking and working together to learn.
And as I remember my daddy’s story, I also think about how important his response was – “Gene, you’ve got to go to school.”
I think how important it is for parents to make their children realize school is something they have to do.
My parents believed deeply that I needed school. My parents were so focused on making sure we had better lives than they had. They wanted us to have better jobs, to experience more of the world, to accomplish more.
I wonder what my life would be like if my daddy and mama hadn’t done all they did to help me succeed in school. If my mama hadn’t made sure I had breakfast every morning before school, hadn’t made sure I had all the supplies my teachers said I needed – even if it meant she and Daddy had to give up something they wanted.
I wonder where I’d be now if my mama hadn’t made sure I sat down every afternoon and got that homework done, no matter how much I complained or begged to play or wanted to watch TV first.
I wonder how well I would have done in school if my daddy hadn’t come down on me about every bad grade I made.

He’d always sit me down and say, “Is that the best you can do?”

And I’d always say, “No, sir, I could’ve done better.”

I wonder if I would have spent the rest of my life “going to school” – as I basically have – if my daddy hadn’t demanded to know why I made a bad grade and what I was going to change to make sure those kind of grades didn’t happen again.
And so when I think back on my daddy’s story of my first day, I think about all the things our teachers do to help our students “want” to come back to school every day, think about all the parents out there who are saying to their children, “You have got to go school. You need school. Education is important.”
I think about those things, and they make me realize how important first days of school are for every student in our district – from kindergarten to middle schoolers to seniors.
I think about the role we all play – parents and educators – in making that first day, and every day of school, something our children want to do.
Please join us as we work to make sure every child in our district leaves school that first day – and every school day – loving learning and wanting to go back for more.
Help us give our children the education they need to live the dreams we have for them.