Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

It’s back to school time. No matter how you slice it, there is just something extra special about going back to school. Granted, I am giving a little bit of side-eye at this “still in August” start date (what ever happened to after Labor Day?), but it is still exciting.

Of course, part of what makes it special is that we have had summer break. I mean, I realize this is obvious, but I also think it bears repeating. Summer break, a chance to spend time with family, go exploring, try new foods, sleep in, swim, whatever it is for you – it is a shift out of the routine that allows the brain and the emotions to reset and recharge.

And then, voila! Along comes a new school year with new friendships, new challenges, new experiences and that glorious feeling of a fresh, blank piece of paper, both literal and metaphorical.

One of the things I think makes the new year feel so special is the opportunity for new relationships. Kids get to make new friends and meet their new teachers. Teachers get to meet a new bunch of students and their families. This is a golden opportunity, too good to let slip.

The recent national narrative has been working at redefining the relationship between parents and teachers, pitting them against each other in a fully fabricated battle of ideology.

I vote we don’t allow that nonsense.


The reality is parents and educators want the same thing: a happy, thriving, successful and well-educated child who is prepared as fully as possible for whatever life brings their way.

So, if everyone is on the same page with the end goal, then it just falls to us all to navigate the concerns of “how.” I say “us” because, as the saying goes, it really does take a village.

Schools can’t do it alone. Volunteers, supportive voters and invested community members are all powerful allies in creating vibrant, thriving, nurturing schools. Most important of all, of course, are families and guardians.

Numerous studies show that family engagement boosts student learning and self-esteem. Educators know this and they want families involved. In fact, the National Education Association cites research that says “84% of educators would choose a school with more engaged parents over one offering a higher salary.” Which is saying something.

Teachers are, after all, highly educated and trained professionals. To be certified to teach in Maine, an educator must have a college degree, and many have a master’s as well. Even so, teachers make far less than other professions. In fact, according to the Fordham Institute, “teacher wages lag that of civilian professionals, just as they have done in every studied year since 1996. In 2021, the wage gap between the two groups was the largest … analysts have ever seen: 23.5%.”

We have, in this country, a bad habit of equating salary with value, so given the pay issue, maybe folks think teaching is not worthwhile. That is ––unfortunate.

Teaching is one of the most meaningful, impactful and worthwhile professions going. Most people I know, when asked about the formative people in their lives, name a teacher.

And of course family is family. No one knows a child better, is more invested in the welfare and future of the child, or can advocate more effectively for their needs.

Working in partnership, the future cannot help but be bright. Here’s to the start of new adventures.

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