After a summer of not seeing each other, there was lots of greetings and hugs Monday morning at Hamden High School -- not among students, but teachers who attended their first day of the school year with an assembly with Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz.
Classes start Thursday, but summer ended Monday for the district's teachers who were welcomed back by Rabinowitz, Mayor Scott Jackson and Board of Education chairman Michael D'Agostino.
Jackson said he sees first-hand what wonderful teachers the district has with his son's teachers at Ridge Hill School.
"The teacher sees a spark and says, let me make something great, and that's what a teacher does every day -- we're going to make you the best you can be and when you come here, you're safe and you're learning," he said.
"Summer vacation is over," Administrator's Union president Jeanne Cooper told the teachers. "No more sleeping in, no more staying up late, no more summer reading, no more days at the beach.
"We have to stick together as a team," she told them.
When looking for heroes, many look to celebrities when they should look to teachers, Teacher's Union president Diane Marinaro said.
"Teachers are the real heroes in today's society," she said. "No other profession can match what we do or see or feel."
And as for the saying, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach?"
"What a bunch of crap," said Hamden High School science teacher Tracy Stockwell, who was named the district's Teacher of the Year. "Those who can, teach," she said, "and those who can't, shouldn't."
Because of that mindset she initially ruled out teaching as a career, Stockwell said, but found herself drifting into it in her first job at a zoo.
And after years in the classroom, "I still love teaching," she said.
"You have to have passion," she told her peers. "It's hard to tune out a teacher who is passionate about what they are teaching."