When I was five years old, I lived in Ammon, Idaho. My neighbor, Jeff, was 6 months younger than I was, and he showed up one day riding a bike. I was so jealous that I convinced my dad to teach me how to ride. My dad gave in and pulled out this old orange bike with the ancient “banana seats.” He told me “Travis, there are two rules: 1) Keep the handlebars straight 2) Keep pedaling. If you do those two things, you will be fine.”
We started off down the driveway and I was focused on the two directions. My dad was running along with a hand on the handlebar and seat. After a few feet, my dad took his hand off the handlebar, and I freaked out! I started to waver and wabble. He calmed me down and reminded me of the rules. I regained control and kept straight and peddled like crazy. I was so focused that I did not notice that he stopped running with me. After a while, I said to him “Dad, I am doing it!” He did not answer, and I looked over my shoulder to see where he was. He was 20 feet behind me and I got scared. I jerked the handlebar to the right and catapulted over the front tire.
I lay in the street, jeans torn, bleeding, and crying when my dad caught up. He was smiling! “What a jerk!”, I thought. He was smiling as I was bleeding. He told me something that shaped my life. He said “Travis, I am smiling because I know you will get back up and try again.”
That experience is how I view our role as educators. We are not expecting kids to know it all when they walk in the door. We are expected to put them in situations that they might fall. They might crash. They might skin their knees, but we will encourage them to get back up and ride again.
With Covid, we are all learning to ride a bike. We will also stumble and waver. You have my promise that when we do, we will work to get better, get back on the bike and ride again. The purpose of Syracuse Junior is to be better every day, all of us, together.
Welcome to the 2020-21 school year. I have no idea what it will bring, but we will certainly have fun figuring it out.