OUR OPINION: A new school year offers big potential

Thousands of Northeast Mississippi’s public school students will begin a countdown this weekend to the start of the fall semester on Monday, most others on another day during the next week.

Schools’ early beginning, a choice of local school boards, enables districts to complete the first semester before Christmas holidays in late December and into early January 2015.

Most football teams, marching bands, cheerleaders and other team and extracurricular groups also have started their practices for the events of the fall semester.

The earliest arrivals in classrooms have been thousands of teachers across the systems in every county and city system of the region. Classes don’t materialize at the wave of a wand. Instructional supplies, lesson planning, coordination with other schools and the state’s requirements entail comprehensive work and advance execution.

Many schools across Northeast Mississippi will begin the new academic year with improved technology in the hands of students. Schools whose students have had computers at their individual disposal may be expanding options to include personal devises meeting all the technical requirements for classroom use.

Other new technology will be introduced in many schools for use mainly by teachers.

Almost all school principals, superintendents and classroom teachers have made this statement or something similar, perhaps every year:

“The first few days of a new school year are an important time for classroom management. We have a captive group of students, fresh and open to new ways of doing things. But it won’t last, so everyone has to be ready to seize the moments and the days. Opportunity calls. If you don’t get students on board in the first week or two, they’ll fall back into the same old habits, behaviors, and attitudes of the past – and then some.”

Douglas Brooks, who taught at the University of Texas at Arlington, expressed this thought almost 30 years ago, “The first day of school is the most important day of the school year.

There is only one first day of school and what you do can determine your success or failure for the entire year. On this day the students form their first impression of you. People in marketing know that you have seven seconds to create a positive impression.”

In the same way, students should use the first day to make the best possible impression, then follow up day by day – to the end of the school year.

Summer vacations are times of renewal for everyone involved in education.

The business of teaching and learning begins again next week for everyone involved – a fresh start.