Flaming June, it is the best job on Earth
As the holidays are upon us, it's time for review and reflection. It's also a time for staff to be on their knees, and clinging on, through the extra-curricular bonanza that lends feeling to the oft-uttered soubriquet "flaming June" each year.
In addition, there's the high risk assessment element. How dangerous is it to say to a teacher in early June: "Ah well, you'll be winding down for the holidays then?"
However, it's never difficult to find highlights at this time of year, either. The Primary 7s visit never fails to lighten the atmosphere. Although each year they seem bigger and less overawed, they still carry the sheen of enthusiasm, and descriptions of the "big school" experience as "brilliant" and "fantastic" are suitable reward for the planning of our pupil support team, primary colleagues and allied agencies.
Another plus was a "thank you" visit from a former pupil. Mhairi was a great student, but she needed convincing of her talent and ability. To see the poised, assured young woman across the desk from me, animated about her start next session as a primary teacher and acknowledging the school's role in her success, was one of those golden moments that gave birth to the cliche "makes it all worthwhile".
And then there was the school show. Guys and Dolls was the usual amalgam of staff and student talent, commitment and hard work, and last-minute panic. Performed in our local civic theatre, the talent of the principals, the musicianship of the house band, the energy of all the performers and the generous support of staff from all departments made it the epitome of curricular and extra-curricular excellence. For parents, pupils and staff alike, in particular for the sixth years for whom it was their school swansong, it was an emotional experience, and one enjoyed to the full.
Walking the leafy path back to the school car park, it was one of those brilliant Scottish midsummer evenings: recent rain had left the greenery fresh and evocative; the 10 o'clock gloaming was cobalt blue; and somewhere a bird was singing its heart out.
Just at that moment, the show's music echoing in my mind, it was easy to know that teaching is the greatest career on Earth.
Come August, I hope we'll feel the same.
Sean McPartlin is depute head of St Margaret's Academy, Livingston.