Don't look now, but summer is fading into the calendar. We know because students from kindergarten to high school this week begin to head back to the classroom.

With due respect for school administrators and the like, it is the classroom teacher to whom we entrust our children and grandchildren. Years from now, it'll be a classroom teacher or teachers who will be remembered as the one who flipped the switch, the ones we will look back one day and say he or she made a difference in our lives. Maybe it'll be in third grade or seventh grade or even junior year of high school, but rest assured that is going to happen.

Each year, classroom teachers welcome a new gathering of children. Some of those students will be excited, some scared, some needing extra care and attention. This is what our teachers have in store day in and day out, year in and year out.

It is a big and important task educating the next generations. It is a form of extended parenting as they guide their charges through the minefields of childhood and adolescence. All of this is conducted within the framework of providing an education, which, as the years pass, imposes the obligation of teaching teenagers how to think without insisting on what they think. That task demands dexterity, flexibility and a degree of patience that perhaps makes many of the rest of us unsuitable for such a profession.

We wish our teachers well this coming school year, and would say a word to the students who will fill their classrooms: Be helpful. Be kind. Remember, you might not enjoy homework but your teacher, too, will lose evening hours reading, correcting and grading your output. It is by no means a one-way street.

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