While growing up, I became accustomed to Walter Cronkite making that comment while one of NASA's planned missions was in countdown mode. Back in the 1960s there was eager anticipation of each trip, be it placed into orbit around the Earth or making the trip to the Moon. It involved more than just packing the spacecraft with enough food and vital resources, but required the gathering of an enormous amount of information and planning. One mistake and catastrophe would doom the fate of everyone in the space capsule.
Over the past 24 hours, I've found myself in countdown mode for my fourth year of teaching. Everything checks out fine as far as spacesuits, oxygen, pressure, rocket fuel, and motivational speeches to calm the nerves of technicians. In lieu of plotting the course for a simple orbit around the Earth, it's Mars and beyond in the months to come as we kickoff "Global Studies: Eastern Hemisphere" to incoming freshmen. Rather than putting on an act in front of my class in an attempt to convince them that I've aced the material, after much thought I've chosen to be brutally honest in confessing that this is my first 'trip' through the lesson plans. It offers up one of those rare opportunities to show my colors as a 'teacher' on their initial journey crossing the desert rather than a seasoned guide who knows the trail blindfolded. It's an exciting opportunity to lead the way, but in many ways we're walking hand-in-hand. I've got a compass and map in hand...so let's get the troupe of students moving in the right direction. It's going to be an exciting year!