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I’m a lifer

A live-your-best-life website sent me this suggestion: Remember a smell or taste that brings back a happy memory for you. What is the smell, and how does it make you feel?

I knew right away: Honeysuckles in late August in south Texas, walking through my neighborhood in the (relative) cool of the evening, feeling the excitement of a new school year about to start.  I will begin my 37th year as a teacher two weeks from today, and the excitement is just as delicious as when I was 10. There’s some dread – the workload will bring sleep deprivation and exhaustion, there will be discouraging moments with students (“but Mrs. Muñoz I studied very hard for this test so I deserve at least a B on it!” So much is wrong with that.)

Mostly it’s a clean chalkboard and a fresh blouse for the first day and new faces that are a little blank, or a little shy, some even closed into a scowl. I will make all of them light up, I think. This time I will.  This time it’s all going to be so clear, so compelling, so obviously important and relevant, they will LEARN SO MUCH! Some will like me, some won’t, that’s fine. As long as they learn.

The first week of school is fresh energy, tanned, healthy people who spent part of the past few weeks or months near water being young and carefree. I love them all right now, before they bug me about what’s on the midterm. I love walking to the front of the classroom, whether it’s a seminar with 15 or a lecture hall that seats 300, and saying “Hi, I’m Kristine Muñoz.  We’re going to have a GREAT time together this semester!” I love putting together new assignments, tweak lectures so they come at the same ideas from different directions that this time – THIS TIME – they will make so much sense, stick with these students, bring a light into their eyes, make them look at the world, hear the world, differently, maybe speak differently someday. Help them to stand back and think through a situation that before this class would have just puzzled them, and those around them. I don’t kid myself that I change the world, but touch the future? Maybe.

Yes, it’s hot outside and summer is ending and for some, there is nostalgia about that.  Not for me:  The first day of school is always the best one of the year for me.  I smell the honeysuckles, I taste the delight of having a calling that has also been the job they (amazingly) pay me to do. I hear the shrieks of the elementary school kids walking down the block to the first day of their new grade, not too cool yet to show their excitement.  I am a lifer in this schoolteacher thing, and I’ll say it again: This is the greatest blessing I can imagine.

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Honeysuckles: The best day of the school year approaches

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Kristine Muñoz

Curriculum Vitae




Interpersonal Communication