Thought for the Month (September 2008)

September was always the beginning of a new year when I was a teacher.

I can remember sitting at a very large desk in a very empty room as a brand-new teacher. The thought of being responsible for 30 little lives was overwhelming. Suez was looming and I remember fondly the love and security of my first teacher in 1949, Miss Smith. (I thought she was a bit silly, though. She told us to sit where we liked and then proceeded to move us all into her groupings.) She made life fun at St. Peter's as we practised hiding under the desks when the air-raid siren sounded.

There will be many women and men in the same position, beginning their career in teaching this September, and many others beginning their life away from home at University. As I think of them all this New Year, I'll add a hope that they can feed themselves too.

I think, as well, of the little ones beginning in the reception class so smart in their new school uniform. I loved the eagerness and the surprise in their eyes when I asked if Mum, Dad or Granny had taken a photo this morning. Getting them settled in their classroom with the good reception teacher was not too difficult, but coping with the weeping mums took a little longer tea bags and tissues at the ready!

So more prayers for the children going back to school, especially the reception children, for their teachers and families.

There will be those taking the huge step of beginning Secondary School. Joshua starts at Bennett. I can remember how nervous I was, perhaps it was of the journey on the bus rather than the excitement of new things in the classroom.

It's a time of new beginning for so many in our playschools, nurseries, primary and secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges, universities (and I'm old-fashioned enough to like the full word rather than its pretentious abbreviation uni.)

I'm thinking, too, of all those involved in further education, especially Open University degrees. So many opportunities for continuing learning I enjoyed calligraphy, pottery and the world's sacred texts just waiting to be realised.

With the children going back to school we all feel that summer is over and winter is on its way. My schoolchildren usually started the new term in brand new winter uniform only to look with envy at those still wearing cotton dresses and short-sleeved shirts on the warm bright days of September and October.

I hope you join me with a few thoughts and prayers, and some active support the tissue and teabag treatment, the new pencil case or even the offer to babysit.

"Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads. For this reason, keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people." Ephesians 6 v17.

Audrey Mitchell

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church