Candice Wingmare stood before the collected group of 20 second graders, her kids.
Until this moment, they had never met. She knew little about them and she suspected that looking back on this moment years from now, she might realize she knew very little about herself. Still, here they were together in room 110 of the Tannis Valley Elementary School, and from this moment until June 12th at 2:25 pm, these were her kids.
The fresh faces hovered over crisp and clean, first day of school outfits. Some smiled. Some sat expressionless, but their eyes offered a touch of apprehension at the newness of if all. All were quiet. All of them were…waiting.
This was Candice Wingmare’s first day. She was launching a career. She envisioned herself smashing a bottle of champagne on the door of her classroom, like they might do before releasing a new ship into the sea. She was like a ship. The classroom was like the sea. There were maps and charts and plans on how to get across it. There ways to tell when trouble might be brewing, or when one could expect smooth sailing. She should be fine.
Tricks and tips.
However, like the sea, the classroom held within it mysteries untold and lurking dangers. Like the sea, all the maps and charts and instruments in the world become useless when the forces that lie within decide to assert themselves. Like the sea, we can only prepare for what we know and hope that what we know is enough, and that we are clear enough in thought, and determined enough in spirit to weather any storm the sea may produce.
These 20 strange faces looked at Candice Wingmare with hope, expectation, fear, and anticipation. They silently threw down a challenge.
She drew a deep calming breath and placed her hands on the top of her desk for support.
“Good morning, cla…class,” she said softly. He voice dropped a bit near the end forcing her to say class twice, almost like she forgot what she was going to say. Not at all like she had practiced.
The silence of the room seemed to expand as the sound of her voice stifled the last few shuffling feet and bits of paper.
The heat that worked its way up into her face brought a sort of light-headedness with it that made her clench the edge of the desk a bit harder. She drew another deep breath hoping against hope that she would not pass out.
“My name is Miss Wingmare and I’ll be your teacher this year. I’m so happy to see you all, because I think we have a great year planned and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. We have a lot of special things you’ll get to do this year. We have two new computers in our class. I understand there are a few of you who are new to our school like I am. This is my first year, and I’m so very excited to get to know you and have you get to know me better. Is there anyone who would like to lead us in the pledge?”
By the time she got to pledge, Candice’s head was swimming. She said all that on one breath. She swallowed a deep breath as if she just rose up from a long swim underwater. Her head cleared and she tried to replay the last moments over in her head to try and remember what she said.
The class sat quietly for a second and whatever blurriness that came to her vision during her brief opening rant started to fade. Then, 20 hands shot into the air.
Right, the pledge.
She smiled, she relaxed and as she raised her hand to select the smallish girl in the middle of the third row, the ship of Candice Wingmare’s teaching career headed out to sea.