Back To School: Sharp Pencils and New Rulers

It’s back to school and I am missing the smell of new office supplies. August was always a magical time of hope. Everyone started the new year with straight A – 4.0 grade point averages. Sadly for me, that first week of school was the only time I ever made it to the top of the class. I vowed that my own child would never be that way.
When my husband and I sent our daughter to Catholic school it was a personal challenge. I often found myself at odds with the entire process, not to mention philosophies.

Camaley Jennings First Day of School Junior Year

Camaley Jennings First Day of School Junior Year at XCP

Catholic schools had a plethora of stringent codes from dress to school supplies. Students were not encouraged to express themselves with kooky or colorful folders. Stylish or subversive fabric book covers were strictly verboten. The Sisters had their kids reporting to the the first day of school with specific items, that were uniform and exacting. Definitely, the element of individuality was to be removed.
I always tried to celebrate the orginality of life and personality. I wanted my child to be a free thinking, woman of the West.
Rather than rage against the machine, as was my natural response, I had the “Come to Jesus” chat with my daughter her first week of school. I explained to her that the best lessons of a Catholic education would come from the vantage of learning how to work with people of differing ideas, faiths and opinions.
In my mind, we are a world at struggle when we can’t accept other views. Perhaps if we could exhibit tolerance with grace instead of commitment to conversion, we would have more global success.
Okay… maybe this was a bit theoretical for a fourth grader, but I thought it was a key lesson. Over the years, I would repeat this mantra at the beginning of each school year. Many years, I would launch into this tirade primarily for my own benefit. But, I still believe it to be true.
We struggled through the process of attending a Catholic school. It was not always easy. But our family benefited. We learned to be tolerant of another point of view. In the end, the lessons of the school yard, classroom and faith community changed who we are.
We are all students throughout life. It is what makes us better. Enrichment comes in many forms and often at the hands of acceptance. And, in my case, a sharp new pencil and straight edge wooden ruler.
From the Heart …
Juliasignature WEB

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