Valerie Turney, Hurst Hills Elementary TeacherHurst Hills Elementary Teacher, Valerie Turney, reminisces about previous Back to School events and especially what it means to the children:

“Kids these days are so aware of their surroundings, so aware of what others think of them and what other kids are noticing about them.  So many kids just long to fit in and just be like everyone else.  I don't remember being so aware of that when I was in elementary school.  Maybe it is because my biggest worry about the first day of school was if my friends would be in my class or who my teacher would be.  I unknowingly had the luxury of just always having everything I thought I needed for school:  new clothes, lunch money, new backpack, all my supplies and much more. 

I so enjoy being able to see my former and upcoming students at Operation Back To School each summer.  I give them a friendly face, big hug and inviting smile as soon as they walk through the door.  I always ask how their summer has been so far and if they are ready for school to start.  And of course the teacher in me must give a little advice about keeping their minds sharp through the summer by reading, reading, reading!  Soon they are off, going throughout the church collecting their backpacks, supplies, toothbrushes and no doubt getting their faces painted while holding a balloon animal of some sort.  I always make sure to see them at the end of the hall before they leave…just to give them one more hug!  As they leave I say a quick prayer for their health and safe return to school in a few weeks.  I give one more quick smile as they turn to go. 

It takes me several weeks later to realize the best part of what I have given my students and so many more.  It takes me until the first day of school to see that the best part of what I, what we, give them at Operation Back To School is the chance to come into class on the first day of school and unpack their new backpacks full of supplies just like everyone else.”


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