Sarah Tomp is the author of MY BEST EVERYTHING. She has a MFA in writing for children and young adults from VCFA and teaches writing for UCSD-Extension. @swtomp

My Best Everything-HorizonMy internal calendar thinks in terms of school years. As a student, as a classroom teacher, and as a mom, each separate school year adds structure and reference in a more specific and concrete way than traditional months or years. So, this time, right now, is the new year.

This is the time for resolutions and new beginnings. Even though it’s hard to come off summer when I have much more time to write and to explore, it’s a good time to set goals and be aware of the world beyond my words.

I still work in schools, although now I’m tending school health offices. This job allows me to make a positive difference, in the moment, but when I walk out, my head is mine. There’s room for my stories in a way that teaching doesn’t allow. But best of all, my job keeps me connected to young readers. It helps me remember the truths – the aches and joys – of growing up.

I travel between schools which means I get to see kids of all ages, from preschool to high school. And, I get to see a little bit of everything. I take care of ongoing medications and treatments for asthma, allergies, diabetes, and more. There are the expected skinned knees and bumped heads. Nosebleeds. The fevers and the tummy aches. One school has bright red, enthusiastically proclaimed, “vomit pails.” Yes, sometimes they are put to use.

There are also the emotional stresses and anxieties. Conflicts of every intensity often pass through. Physical fights and emotional bullying both leave scars in need of care. Some kids are hungry. Others need new shoes. Or a new home. From temporary trouble to serious mental health issues, the health office is a safe place to claim a time out.

But it’s also a place to see kindness and caring. Kids help their injured friends make it to the health office. They check on each other and advocate for someone that they think needs care and attention. They offer sympathy and empathy. Yesterday a group of over-achievers came in to make ice packs and it was delightful to watch them independently develop a cooperative assembly line.

I love being able to make a difference in someone’s day. I try to make a tough experience a little bit better – or, at the very least, not worse. But, selfishly, I also get to do current and ongoing research for my writing. I see new trends and hear opinions on everything. Most importantly, I get to imagine myself in unfamiliar shoes. I am reminded, over and over again, what it truly feels like to be in the midst of growing and changing.

Happy New Year!

It’s time to set goals, look ahead, and anticipate. What will you do this year?

~Sarah Tomp


  1. This sweet post brings back so many memories of the time I spent teaching, substituting, and tutoring students in my early first career as a teacher. Now that I’m writing for a YA audience, it reminds me of the special qualities young people offer to each other and the world. So giving, loving, supportive. Qualities we all have but take for granted.

    1. Lovely reminder of the way our children do love and care for each other, Sarah. But how the heck do your students make those icepacks? (I tend to use frozen peas or carrots–strawberries in a pinch, although the aftermath of melt is often scarier looking than the injury–albeit tasty

  2. Exactly, Vicki!

    Thanks for reading – so nice to hear from a veteran of the trenches. : )

  3. Sarah, this time of year really is the the new year, you know? This week was Rosh Hashanah, and I’ve always thought, like you, that it makes so much more sense for September to be the beginning of things. Here’s to just that!

  4. This is great, Sarah! Fall is also the beginning of a new schedule for me. I get a little bit more writing space after the frenzy of Summer Reading is over. I also feel so nostalgic in the autumn. I think it is the memories of going back to school. I was always very excited and very nervous. Maybe that is why the season resonates with so much emotion to me.

    So what will you do this year? I hadn’t thought of that, recently. But now, I am. Thanks for that!

    1. Oh my goodness yes on all those mixed emotions! Thanks for stopping by!

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