Back to school once again

Published 7:53 pm Saturday, August 30, 2014

By Chris Quilpa

It’s that time of year again, when students and teachers go back to school after the Labor Day holiday, unofficially marking the end of summer vacation.

Other school systems in the country have begun school a week or two ago, as have many private schools.

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For teachers, the time since they returned to school Aug. 20 has been filled with teachers’ meetings, in-service training, professional updates, working in and decorating their respective classrooms, doing last-minute arranging and setting up their audio-visual teaching aids and equipment, all in an effort to get ready to welcome their students.

One of the guest speakers in a professional development class my wife and I attended a few years ago quoted Henry Brooks Adams, a Harvard graduate who became an assistant professor of history at Harvard University, 1869-1876: “A teacher affects eternity; teachers can never tell where their influence stops.”

My daughter Tintin, who left Hampton Roads a week ago, is back at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, pursuing graduate studies in school counseling, after her two-year stint as one of the college advisers of Virginia College Advising Corps and employed by UVA in partnership with AmeriCorps program.

As a parent and retired member of our armed forces who values a good quality education, I applaud and support my daughter’s decision to pursue a career in school guidance and counseling. Her two-year working experience with high schoolers in an economically depressed community in Virginia has inspired her to help students stay in school and further their education.

As parents, we have to let our children go and experience life outside of their comfort zone, spread their wings and learn more about life and the world, with hope that they will realize their dreams and be successful in their own ways.

But we assure them that we’re always there for them, no matter what happens.

I remember our two separate trips to UVA six years ago, when we dropped off our then third-year student Andrew and then our first-year college student, Tintin. The road that day was busy and overwhelming, filled with travelers, with a convoy of family vans headed to Charlottesville.

Overall, move-in day turned out smoothly and orderly thanks to all the volunteers who helped us parents unload and bring our students’ stuff to their respective dorms.

Best wishes to all students and teachers-educators for a successful new school year.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. E-mail him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.