Next Gen: Back to School

By Susanna Barbee | Aug 06, 2014
Photo by: Donated photo Brooks Barbee sits next to the sign at his new school Lake Junaluska Elementary School.

When my 5-year old was an infant, he had such terrible colic that I thought my head would explode with frustration every night as he screamed and wailed for hours on end. As an exhausted new mom trying to find her way, the first three months of his life felt like an eternity.

But now, all of a sudden, he’s 5-years old, and he will start kindergarten in just a couple of weeks. “They” were absolutely correct when commenting that time flies. I am still having a bit of trouble adjusting to the fact that only last week (wasn’t it last week?), he was toddling around learning his first words and now we’re buying glue sticks and a Kindermat for his first year of elementary school.

I would be more emotional, but I’ve always loved the back-to-school season, so the happy feelings are taking over the whiney mommy feelings. Thankfully.

There’s always something special about beginnings, and a new school year is not only a fresh start for students, but also for educators and parents. It’s a time to reflect upon the past, make changes, and create new goals for a new year.

With my oldest boy starting kindergarten, this back-to-school season holds even more significance. It feels different preparing one of my own for the first day of school. Though we’ve had a wonderful, eventful summer, I think we’re ready for the next thing, and after some observations lately, I don’t think we’re the only ones.

School Supplies have taken center stage at Walmart and Target while clearance signs are plastered across sunscreen and sand buckets. Mall mannequins are displaying the latest fashion and backpack trends for children and teenagers.

Schools are buffing the floors, retouching paint, and landscaping the lawns while teachers are planning for a new group of students. High school band members are practicing new coordinates and formations, and football players are on the local fields preparing for that first Friday night under the lights.

I’m excited for everyone. I’m excited for students as they meet their new teachers and anxiously wait to see which friends are in their classes, for the community as we all embrace our local schools, helping prepare campuses, buy school supplies, and assist in other ways.

I’m excited for first-year teachers as they begin a rewarding and challenging career that will touch their hearts forever. I’m excited for veteran teachers and administrators as they tweak lessons, policies, and guidelines with hopes for the best school year yet.

As excited as I am for everyone else, I can selfishly say that I am most eager for my own little one. I’m excited to watch him take on this new adventure in his quiet and pensive way.

I look forward to hearing about his days and helping him work through challenges that I know will come. For him, for me, and for you, may this be a wonderful and fulfilling school year.

Susanna Barbee is a Waynesville mom, writer, and educator. Find more on her blog, Reach her at