August 19, 2013 was the Monday before school started in Oceanside. Consequently, it was a day filled with jitters for students and teachers as they anticipated all the possibilities of a new school year.
That Monday was also National Soft Serve Day. When I saw the headline in the local section of our newspaper, I couldn’t resist reading it to my husband; we both laughed out loud at the absurdity of a day honoring the treat. However, neither the news of the nationally dedicated day nor our shared amusement inspired us to enjoy soft serve that day.
I did crave ice cream earlier this week as temperatures soared in San Diego. The heat and humidity required some sweet relief, and as I passed by Pepper Tree Frosty on my way home from work, I couldn’t resist stopping.
The old-fashioned soft serve ice cream stand has a walk-up window and picnic table seating under a large pepper tree. The menu board includes all the ice cream delights I remembered enjoying as a child: banana splits, malted milk shakes, and hot fudge sundaes. Everything sounded enticing, but I was trying to be “good” so I settled on a simple medium vanilla cone.
I got into my car with my ice cream piled high and realized that the swirl of white might make an interesting image for smooth, the SDAWP Photo Voices word-of-the week. I carefully balanced the cone on the passenger side floor mat and snapped a few photos before the ice cream started to melt, requiring immediate consumption.
As I enjoyed the refreshing sweetness, I reflected on the beginning of the school year and wondered why I had never heard of a day set aside to recognize the importance of education. Of course, we all know about the annual Teacher and Staff Appreciation Days that are celebrated in the spring, but what about a day to honor public education?
As I always do when I have a question, I looked to the Internet for an answer, and I learned that there actually is an entire week dedicated to recognizing the role of public education. In fact, the first American Education Week was celebrated in 1921. The National Education Association (NEA) has sponsored it for over ninety years, and their vision for the week has called upon “all Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.”
As a teacher in public schools for over twenty-five years, how is it possible that I could have heard about National Soft Serve Day and not about American Education Week? I am embarrassed that it took a vanilla soft serve ice cream cone for me to become aware of a week to honor public education, but I plan to do my part to get the word out. I will bring the suggestions on the NEA website to my school and will rally our community to participate. I might even end the weeklong celebration with another vanilla soft serve ice cream cone from Pepper Tree Frosty.
American Education Week is held the week before Thanksgiving each year. To learn more, visit the NEA toolkit at http://www.nea.org/grants/47623.htm