September MorningSeptember MorningThose of us who still love music from the 70s are probably familiar with Neil Diamond

His song “September Morn” came into my head recently, a little earlier than usual thanks to the poor weather of recent times

Normally the Rose of Tralee signals the approach of autumn. That didn’t quite fit the bill this year as autumn seems to have arrived true to the old Irish seasons which always proclaimed August as being the first month. In 2012, I took early retirement from the principalship of a primary school. Yet somehow still, the annual return to school brings back the old feelings, emotions, and scents of the early days of the school year in quite a vivid manner. I was a fortunate child of the sixties whose primary school days were very happy ones. This was not the case with so many of my contemporaries.

As a child, going to Brown and Nolan’s in Cook Street to buy the books for the new school year was exciting. The smell and the feel of the books, the clean pages of the copies, the smooth wooden pencil case with its two levels, the pens, ink, and blotting paper. Then there were the materials for sewing: embroidery threads, cloth, and those for knitting. After all we needed to learn how to darn, sew in a button, make a skirt, knit a jumper, and turn the heel of a sock! Like so many women of that era, my dear mother could do all of these to a very high standard which was a great help to me. Time moved on. Secondary school was a mixed blessing, but it provided me with the chance to fulfil my dream of being a teacher. Eventually I made my way back to my old primary school, (now a much bigger one), as a teacher of Junior Infants.

Numerous memories of those September days. Smiles and the occasional tears of children and parents. The smell of chalk, the pleasure of seeing the bundles of books, clean copies and new paints, the early morning quiet classroom warmed by the September sun. Meeting my pupils for the first time followed by the settling in of the first few weeks when we eventually fell into the routine of work combined with some fun. Tiredness in the increasingly darker mornings. Establishing boundaries with the children and talking with parents. Yard duty which always meant a few children screaming because of wasps chasing the lunches. Co-operating with colleagues and the welcome smell of the staff room coffee. New developments to the building. The work done by Boards of management. Sadness at the departure of colleagues and the getting to know of new. The cheerful voice of the caretaker as he went about his work. Our secretaries who were such a support. Remembering as a principal to buy cans of Wasp Eze along with my A4 Academic Year Diary!

This September I pray for school communities everywhere, that their year be one that is filled with achievement, growth and fun. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. As the song says, “September mornings still can make me feel that way”.

Elizabeth Murphy.