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School's In 

I vividly recall my first day of school and my first teacher: Joan Nye at Georgia Elementary and Middle School. I wore a blue velour jumper over a yellow turtleneck, and Mrs. Nye pinned a yellow elephant name tag to it when I arrived. I can still remember the thrill I felt being in school for the first time.

Our classroom shared a wall and doors with another early-grade classroom, and the teachers often communicated with each other via the transom windows. They taped messages onto the glass, saying "Have a great day" or "Here's what we're working on today..." The room-to-room banter added to my sense that there was something awesome happening in every class, around every corner, behind every door. To me, school seemed the best place in the world to be.

That excitement is part of the secret to academic success, and students find it in a variety of settings. Vermont musician Grace Potter had a choir teacher at Harwood Union Middle and High School who helped cultivate her passion for music; she elaborates in the "Because Project" essay. Current and former students are devoted to Mount Saint Joseph High School in Rutland — one of only two Catholic high schools in Vermont. Kathryn Flagg describes their efforts to keep parochial education alive in "School Spirit".

Of course, not all learning happens in a traditional classroom — more and more Vermonters are going the homeschool route. Ken Picard explores why in "Independent Study".

No matter how much you love it, though, school isn't all fun and games. Inevitably, there's homework to be done. Fathers talk about how they help — or don't — in "Go Ask Dad". Looking for even more expert advice? Dr. Lewis First offers pointers on talking to kids about drugs.

Good and bad, school days are back. Whatever your approach to education, we hope you and kids enjoy them.

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