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Ingle St. John: Back to school jitters
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I love this time of year.

In fact, my love for this time of year is the root of my huge crush I developed on Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks in the Nora Ephron classic," You've Got Mail." He wrote to Kathleen Kelly (played by the adorable Meg Ryan), "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms."

This year is particularly sweet because (my husband) Robert and I are both gearing up to teach ninth grade together after such a long road to get here. (To read about Caroline's journey through cancer recovery and Robert's path to teaching, go to

However, it has always been one of my favorite times of the year. That's my mom's fault. She celebrated "Back to School" with such flare. Our backpacks were by the door, and our clothes were set out the night before. She drove us through McDonald's to get her favorite food on the planet - their pancakes.

We spent the weeks before making sure we were ready. In those days, Salem Campmeeting always was started the Friday before the second Sunday in August. When Salem was over, we would get ready for school. Mom would take the kids on our street in Four Seasons to Open House. We thought it was so we could all be together. Now I see that that set of working moms figured out systems of shared parenting to make it work.

Trips to Mr. Almond's store meant I could smell popcorn and walk over creaky wood floors as I selected the ideal school supplies for Pine Street. Mom would let me shop as long as I needed. Pencils. Trapper Keeper. Folders. Left handed scissors. Markers. Crayons. I loved every second of it.

Even though I am the teacher now, I still love "Back to School."

This career is a perfect fit for me because I love fresh starts. Each time the school year gears back up, I received the gift of new. A new bulletin board. A new schedule. A new group of students. A new perspective. No matter how bad the year before may have been, I can survive knowing a new school year is coming.

It's almost here. We have gone back for pre-planning, and our local stores are swollen with school supplies. High school students are scrambling to find those summer reading books, and parents are wondering what this year will look like. I pray this school year brings new ideas, greater perspectives, strong relationships, and positive change for all of us.

Caroline Ingle St. John is a cancer survivor, Rockdale native and Project Success teacher at Heritage High School. You can read more at her blog,