Mr. Hladek’s Excited

I started this on the first day of school and only just finished. It’s only fitting it would take so long, especially as I reread my meandering thoughts on the first day of school. Best laid plans, am I right?

Anyway, I hope you can join me in committing to excitement over stress this year. It’s quite a worthy resolution, in my opinion, though as with everything at WCDS, you have permission to fail, and permission to keep trying.

One last thing, take a minute to see all of our amazing stuff on our Top Tens page from Adobe Spark. (We’ll update all year long so keep checking back!)


It’s an odd feeling, this first week of school. While most of my family and friends celebrate the new year in the chill air of January, we do so under the hot sun of late August. I cheers like anyone else at midnight, but for me, the true new year starts with a Twin Pop party at Wheeling Country Day School.

As a student, I remember these days as bittersweet. I was always ready for summer to end, as much as I hated to admit it (fair skin, freckly redhead – you do the math), but I was always nervous for what a new school year could mean. What would dominate the year ahead? What was my teacher going to be like? How much homework was I going to get? (How often) Would I be sent to the principal? Would people suddenly start understanding my ‘hilarious’ jokes? Would my friends still, you know, be my friends? Would they even remember me? By the time I entered middle school, sweating was a real thing, but I’ll leave that for another time.

As a teacher, however, I’ve always found the first day of school an interesting mixture of emotions. It’s both an ending and a new beginning. It’s leaving a steady present for an unknown future. Each day from here until graduation scoffs at my detailed, well-meaning to do list. Elementary living means nothing is preordained, save for a consistent dose of thinking on one’s feet and always feeling like you should do more. Lots of laughs and hugs as well, to be fair. It’s exhausting and concerning and invigorating and fulfilling all at the same time, and I’d be lying if I said how ready I am to be back. I’m excited, for sure, but often it feels like I never left, especially after nine years of school year to summer camp and back again. I know the schedule ahead and I have some experience under my belt, but the reality is I don’t think any of us are truly ready for anything, ever.

Deep stuff, I know.

But, the moment is upon us, whether I’m truly ready or not, so in the vain of my real new year, let me share my resolution(s) for the nine or so months ahead. I’ve resolved this year to rewire my thinking, to allow myself to embrace excitement, rather than succumb to stress, even on the weekends. I’ll ‘Pivot to Positive’ as Liz said again and again during our Welcome Back meetings. After all, physiologically speaking, what’s the difference? My hands get clammy, my stomach churns, my knees bounce as I sit. (I mentioned sweating, right?) Rather than obsessing over all the ways I could fail or all the obligations I may have, I’m thinking of all the possibilities that lie ahead and all the challenges I’m so fortunate to take on. Look, I’m coming to a place that embraces my weirdness and challenges me to find and pursue my passions. Then, I get to share those passions with children, the best audience in the world. Honestly, if I can’t get excited about that…

Our family at WCDS constantly learns about atmospheres and cultures in notoriously progressive companies like Google or Apple or St. Judes. Like many of us, I’d read about these places and think, ‘Boy wouldn’t that be great.’ Then I’d walk onto an Elementary School campus and edit a video of my head of school addressing a school issue directly to camera or take an impromptu photo shoot of kids painting by the stream or, you know, launch a weather balloon and go home worrying about whether any of those projects were good enough. This year, more than any other year, I’m going to be reminding myself that this place is different. That it’s possible here to try things and fail and get back up and fail again as long as you’re learning something and trying your best. I’m going to remind myself that it’s possible here to be who and what I want to be, and that I don’t have to apologize for the result. I’m going to remind myself that this place, this little oasis posing as a school, is right there with those places I mentioned above. Because it’s not about all the great things happening somewhere else, it’s about what’s possible right here, where we are.

Stay excited,

Luke