I ’ll be dropping my kids off at college in a few weeks so they can get started on the next chapter of their lives. Both of my kids plan to become educators. My daughter wants to be a kindergarten teacher and my son wants to be a middle school physical education teacher.

When my kids were in elementary school I visited to have lunch with them, and it took all of about 10 minutes before I thought that the women who worked in that cafeteria every day are saints, and whatever we pay them it is not enough. The cacophony of one hundred squeaky little voices all talking at the same time, at least a dozen of them talking directly at me, was more than my brain could process.

We ask a lot of our teachers, and while I know my kids are up to the task, I also know it’s a job that requires tremendous patience and a sense of humor, and the ability to be nimble in order to meet the kids where they are, mentally and emotionally, each day. And a very strong and well-developed immune system.
In some ways I think teaching is the safest job out there — it offers stability, good benefits and long summer breaks. In other ways I think it’s the most dangerous job out there — as a country we’re still more worried about the right to own a military-style weapon than the safety of our children in their schools. While college will provide a nice foundation of practice and knowledge, I know it will be experience that will really make them good at it.

We have all had teachers who stick with us, who impacted us, who altered us in one way or another. I’m excited for my kids to have that — for them to have the opportunity to impact children every day, to play a small role in the development of young minds and to watch their students transform over time.
This is our back-to-school issue, and in these pages you will read about the evolving early-childhood education offerings in Carroll County, and you will be inspired by Dr. Kendra Hart, who is forging a path for some of the county’s youngest learners.

As we gear up for another school year, I offer up an enthusiastic hip hip hooray! for our teachers. And the same cheer goes up for all the others who support our children in the course of their school day — the cafeteria staff, bus drivers and custodial team, office staff, guidance counselors, aides and resource officers. I felt my sanity slipping after just 10 minutes in an elementary school cafeteria during lunchtime. I cannot imagine the mental and emotional fortitude that it takes to do the work our educators and support staff do every single day.

Best wishes to students and their families as we look towards the new school year. May there be magic and learning and transformation in the days ahead for all of us.

Kym Byrnes

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