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Friday was the last day of school in the Anderson County school system, and as it was such, my esteemed comrade, Katie, and I were given the task of talking to some elementary students to find out their summer plans.
We headed off to Saffell and Turner, because I knew I'd be at Ward later in the day. At both schools we of course stopped by the office to sign in and let it be known what our plans were while we were there.
At each school we were greeted with the same response: a warm, welcoming hello, a let-me-check-with-the-principal and a sure, go right ahead.
At Saffell, Mr. Shouse even made an announcement to let teachers and students know we'd be wandering the halls.
We didn't have to look far for smiling faces to interview because the students found us.
I tell you this little anecdote because I think it accurately sums up my experience thus far with the school system here.
On a small scale, I've been given similar assignments at other schools where the faculty would select the students to whom I would talk - which, in that case, was fine.
But here in Anderson County, we got the approval to wander around and see which students wanted to talk to us - which, in this case, was wonderful.
You see, to me that put things in perspective on a larger scale because it says that in my short amount of time here, I've developed a certain amount of trust with the principals, teachers and students. They know I have a job to do, and they do what they can to help me do it, all the while not helping too much.
They know I love to come take pictures of baby chickens, to take a walk to the park on Earth Day and to stand in the halls as the students walk out of Emma B. Ward for the last time. But they also know I love to cover stories on the new attendance areas, the byproducts of the new attendance areas and how much money the school system will be operating on next year.
They know all those things are a part of my job, and they respect that.
It's very much appreciated.
From my grand introduction by Mr. Shaw at the first board meeting I covered to this little assignment we completed on Friday, I've felt welcome here.
During a meeting with some teachers at the Early Childhood Center, I was asked if being around schools and teachers so much ever made me want to be a teacher. My answer was yes, because sometimes I see the effect teachers have on their students and I wish I could make that kind of difference.
I was quickly reminded that in some ways I already do.
One of the teachers said, "No, you can't do that because then you wouldn't write these wonderful stories."
I'll keep writing the stories I write as long as you keep telling me about them.
I know school is out for the summer, and that kind of saddens me. But I know come August I'll have plenty to do. I'm not wishing the summer away, but to all those in the Anderson County school system: hurry back. I'd like to show you the kind of welcome back that you've shown me.