Today was the first day of fall semester classes. Even though I've been working here for 12 years, I still can't quite get used to the idea of starting the fall semester in mid-August; and the public schools here in eastern Kentucky start two weeks before we do.
Growing up in California, school did not begin until after Labor Day. In fact for the first few years of grade school, the school year did not begin until after California Admission Day (marking statehood). My first day of Kindergarten was September 11. This is easy to remember because it is also the day my youngest brother was born, so my mom was in the hospital and my Dad took the day off from work to take me to school (and to be with her in the hospital).
Even the college I went to didn't get the ball rolling until after Labor Day.
The thing is, I think we spent less time in school but learned more. I have opinions about why that is.
The weeks leading up to the first day of classes (today) tend to be pretty hectic. First there are several days of in-service meetings, then there is a week of registration and advising. Between advising students all the faculty work frantically on our course syllabi and first week lessons.
Then there is the photocopying -- lots of it. This year they want to make sure that everyone copies on both sides of the paper -- always a good idea, but this year a budgetary necessity. There was a long line at the photocopier as everyone tried to figure out how to set up two sided copying, collating, and stapling on the new machine.
Rather than haul myself and my papers all the way back upstairs to my office, I ducked into the near by faculty/staff lounge to sit for a while. Here I had the best moments of the day. The entire outside wall of the lounge is windows that look out on the North Fork of the Kentucky River that runs through Whitesburg. It's been a while since it has rained, and the water is fairly shallow. About twenty ducks were feeding at a point were the river narrowed even further by sandbars and gravel. The ducks all faced upstream towards the current and repeatedly dipped their beaks in the water as it flowed over the shallows. Occasionally the ducks would break ranks and regroup themselves, with different ducks getting to work the front of the group. Once in the process of moving and resorting, all twenty were in a single line in the river swimming against the current. Reminded me of the saying about "getting your ducks in a row."