In the Suburbs: August signals the end of summer

A school bus pulls away after the first day of school on Sept. 1, 2016 at Mill Hill Elementary School in Fairfield, Conn.

A school bus pulls away after the first day of school on Sept. 1, 2016 at Mill Hill Elementary School in Fairfield, Conn.

Laura Weiss / Hearst Connecticut Media

This past Monday, I turned the calendar page to August, wrapped up my six-week Upward Bound high-school teaching program at Sacred Heart and suddenly realized this summer is nearly over.

In less than a month, I return to my regular teaching of reading at our Bridgeport charter school on Aug. 29 and the new school year will be underway.

There’s something about August that I can’t completely describe. The pace seems more active. There is a feeling of transition from the long, fun month of July to the more serious time of college returns. For me August marks my birthday on the 8th and our anniversary on the 21st. But this month also represents an annual gateway to fall and its abundance of holidays and celebrations marking the end of another year.

I walked into Staples in Fairfield this week and I could feel the energy. There were lots of moms and dads shepherding their younger students around the store to find those all important supplies for the beginning of the school year. But unfortunately, according to reporter Suzanne Nuyen for NPR News, “ Inflation is top of mind for parents shopping for the back-to-school season. A survey shows families are cutting back on travel, dipping into savings and reusing supplies in order to afford school necessities.”

While I didn’t look closely at all of Staples’ prices, I would guess they will be slightly higher. But given the captive audience they reach every year, I’m sure few people will complain. I’ll have to see if places like Staples will offer any discount bargains for educators like me. These days, teachers are pretty much expected to supplement basic supplies with any other classroom necessities.

To prepare for the onslaught of new Fairfieid University students, I noticed when I arrived for work yesterday, that our Fairfield University bookstore management had added a bunch of temps, who were folding and sensoring tons of sweatshirts (perish the thought in this heat) and other fall/winter clothing. We associates added to the effort at the cash register and in the downstairs stock room.

I have a feeling those clothes will disappear very quickly as new and returning students descend on our downtown and campus bookstores. I always enjoy watching parents of beginning freshmen open their wallets to make sure their students will be outfitted properly for daily classes.

Upstairs in the text section of the store, Sean and his staff are filling shelves with regular supplies of books and online materials in anticipation of the new academic year. With the growing percentage of online book orders, the text team is already busy pulling books for pick up at the Stag Spirit Shop on campus or downtown.

While school doesn’t start for me until the end of the month, I actually spent two days a week during July working with our education coordinator on curriculum, and planning for my reading course, which covers pronunciation and spelling. I made great progress and feel much more prepared this year. It was sometimes hard to find desks in a classroom to do work because the school was being spruced up with cleaning and floor buffing, but I managed.

And for this year, I will have to create a new classroom in the school annex, an area above the high school hallway. This will be a bit of a challenge since our teacher’s lounge is located in the annex and teachers are walking by all the time. I requested at least some movable walls to provide some privacy and I am hoping to get a couple of small file cabinets to replace the boxes I’ve used these past two years.

When I arrived to do some work about a week ago, I found my files and folders all over the place, because the annex was being totally reorganized. Now I have them in one temporary spot on the annex stage above my new teaching area. The stage had been my classroom last year.

Whether I like it or not, August is already moving too quickly, signaling that I’ll have to get serious about the end of another summer break. As I tell myself every year, these summers are never long enough, but they still give us a chance to unwind, recharge, perhaps travel and relax…until August that is.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.