Instead of lectures and serious meetings, teachers started the school year with a pep rally Tuesday.
The entire staff of the Schenectady City School District was welcomed Tuesday morning by a marching band and cheerleaders — all Schenectady students.
Before teachers went to their schools to get ready for the students’ first day today, current seniors stepped up to a podium to thank them for their work.
They described how particular teachers reached out to them and helped them succeed.
Superintendent Laurence Spring organized the event in hopes of helping teachers focus on what they can do to make a difference for their students.
“It’s easy to get worried or concerned about the state of education. The world changes and things are different, but what gets people where they’re going are relationships,” Spring said. “We wanted to make sure they heard the stuff that really matters: the impact we have.”
Alumni on the staff also spoke, describing bleak childhoods in poverty and how teachers helped them climb into the middle class.
Spring hoped the seniors’ speeches would particularly help teachers push through the tough days to come.
“Even though adolescents can sometimes act like, well, adolescents, the kids are appreciative,” Spring said. “What I really want them to get out of it is we’re really appreciative of the work they do.”
And he wants them to love today.
“The first day of school is my favorite day,” he said. “I want every one of them to feel that way.”
He has numbers to bolster them, too — the dropout rate plummeted last year and many more students graduated. But, he said, sometimes a cheer from the pep squad says more than a column of numbers.
“We wanted it to be a little more celebratory,” he said. “Build people up and let’s get excited about this year.”