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It is back­-to­-school season and the most frequently asked question I get is, “Are you ready?”. As a teacher, I view ‘years’ as September through June, not January through December. That leaves July and August. These months offer a very different pace than the rest of the year. A pace that I welcome and become accustomed to. Yet, as the summer dwindles, the air begins to cool, and the trees slowly lose their luster ­­ I undoubtedly find myself preparing once again for another school year, ready and waiting.

The great thing about summer vacation is that both teachers and students have a chance to slow down, to reflect, and maybe, if we are lucky, to experience adventure. We might get the chance to visit a far away place or discover something in our own community that we didn’t have time to appreciate during the school year. Whatever the case, the summer brings a sense of excitement, a feeling that adventure could be anywhere at any moment and it’s time to go out and discover it.

I am struck by how adventures themselves inspire the fundamental curiosity and wonder that lies in us all. No matter what time of year, when we are free to seize moments and discover something new, we nurture a part of ourselves that loves learning. Our eyes become a bit brighter, our minds focus in on the experience, we cherish every moment.

This kind of inquisitive mindset also applies to each new school year. Students wonder what teachers they’ll have. Teachers wonder about what kinds of thinkers their students will be and what lessons they’ll learn from their students. Students wonder who their classmates will be and if they’ll see the same friends again or make new ones. Every year brings a fresh start. Every year propels us into the unknown. Every year brings the promise of adventure.

This promise creates an excitement, anxiety, anticipation, and even fear that surely gives space for learning. That first day of school allows us all to walk through the doors, rested and clear, with the willingness and drive to commit to our own learning, our own growth, our own passions. As a community, we embark on great challenges to our minds, possible uncertainties and confusion, and eventual understanding. The adventure that is school is ours to make. It won’t happen without our own desire to make it happen.

And so, as the final days of summer allow us squeeze every last bit of sunshine, remember that our lives are only as big and as exciting as we make them. Every school year provides us with opportunity to push our own thinking and our own limits. Adventures are not always fun, sometimes they are scary or uncertain. It is how we handle ourselves within that fear or uncertainty that allows us to grow.

So, my new year 2016­2017 resolution is to embrace adventure, in all of its forms, whenever the chance presents itself. Moments that inspire our own growth are all around us, and they enrich our lives. So stay curious and keep your wonder alive. Let’s start this new year ready ­ with our heads up, eyes bright, and minds attentive to new discoveries, to the adventure that awaits.

Ms. Nicole T. Marquez, M.Ed., NBCT