Potential Energy

As a chemistry teacher, energy is a regular topic of discussion in my classes.  Students often arrive in class thinking of energy in terms of potential and kinetic energy, or the shorthand “stored energy” and “the energy of motion”.  And as we begin another school year, I am drawn to thinking about energy in myriad ways as it pertains to the opening of school.

Today, my school welcomed new families to campus.  Our program probably doesn’t look much different than many independent schools – a welcome from the Head of School and members of the administrative team, time to meet advisors, social time to meet members of the faculty.  Behind the programming, however, is the significance of the day.  Today is the day that we officially throw open the doors and welcome a new, excited, anxious group of community members.  What lies before us is the clean canvas of another school year.  Today, we are a community filled with potential energy.

The students I currently hear laughing outside my office on a scavenger hunt are potential energy in it’s most exciting form.  The school year has not yet started, and so their journey has not quite begun.  But when it does, their daily activity, questioning, and growth will fully power an entire community eager to support them.  They will have converted their potential energy into kinetic energy.

I, too, am ready to turn potential into kinetic energy.  The summer is always wonderful, but I have a chronic longing for the kinetic energy that lies within our school and within my classroom.  And that only comes once we throw open our doors.  Let’s ring the bell and go to school…and capture the potential energy.


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