The Block Island Times
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It's almost time for school to start: Get ready!

By Sheridan Fisher Carley | Sep 03, 2011

With years of experience as a former teacher and director of early childhood programs, Sherry Carley has offered to write a column to share the knowledge, and great stories, she’s accumulated. And so, as a new school year approaches, here’s her first column. Enjoy.

One year during my teaching career, I had a student name Richard. It was the first time he had come into my classroom and he came with a show-and-tell item in a box. Little did I know what I was in for. I said, “Richard, how nice of you to bring your pet to share with all of the children on the first day of school.” I gingerly opened the box and there was a giant, six-foot-long boa constrictor.

“Try not to be afraid, Mrs. Carley,” said Richard. “OK, Richard, I’ll try!” I replied. Next I asked, “Richard, what does your boa do?” He said, “His name is Harry and he eats and likes to hang around your neck.”

OK, I thought. Now I love animals, but never really having much experience with snakes, I was reluctant. I gently took the box, opened it, and with some coaxing from the children, I put Harry around my neck. Richard said, “Mrs. Carley, Harry just ate yesterday, so he won’t eat you.” I said, “That’s good to know. By the way, what did he eat?” Richard informed me that he had eaten a rat.

My biggest personal fear is of mice and rats. So I asked Richard, “Did the snake need to be burped?” Richard quickly answered, “No, Mrs. Carley, you are silly. He’s a snake!”

Well, everyone had a nice time touching and kissing Harry, who was around my neck. The children were so excited and a special bonding took place among them and the snake.

It was a great first day.

Back to school for all children is a wonderful experience. Teachers, get ready! Parents, get ready! There they go!

As long as I can remember, my passion has always been children and education. I was 32 years old when I decided I really wanted to make a difference in the world. Children are my business. And I can say that back to school is the most exciting event for all ages of children and their parents. It brings new friends, old friends, new and old teachers, new expectations at home and new school styles of teaching with positive experiences at hand.

Helen Keller once said: “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed into uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” Making any child’s first days of school a good experience will enhance their self-worth and help them appreciate themselves as unique individuals in a multicultural society.

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