Summer is officially over for local students who returned to classrooms for a new school year in both the city and county schools Monday. All across Sampson, children bounded off school buses, said goodbye to parents for the day, filed into classrooms, and started getting to know their new teachers and classmates.
At Salemburg Elementary School, parents escorted the youngest of the youngsters — thekindergartners — down the kindergarten hall, marking a bittersweet milestone in their child’s life.
“It’s hard. It’s my baby. My baby’s going to Kindergarten,” said Ebony Boone, who also has a fourth grader at Salemburg Elementary. “It’s also they’re first year here…they’re excited about being in a new school.”
Fellow parent Blanca Mayoral was feeling similar emotions as she snapped pictures of her daughter Allison in her kindergarten classroom.
Mayoral shared that her daughter was already familiar with the school having attended Pre-K at Salemburg Elementary, and noted that that familiarity helped calm the typical first-day-of-school nerves for both of them.
“I like this school,” said Mayoral, mentioning that she lived close-by. “Good teacher and friends.”
One of those good teachers is Kindergarten teacher Laurie Dunman.
Dunman, who is in her third year of teaching at Salemburg Elementary, shared what the first day of school is like for teachers.
“We do staggered enrollment here (for Kindergarten). We have six to seven students come per day during the first week. All kindergarteners will come on Thursday,” she explained, pointing out that the schedule “gives us a chance to really get to know the kids.”
Although only a few minutes into the first day of school, Dunman could already tell something about her young students. “The children are really excited. They’ve got smiles on their faces and they’re wearing their new clothes,” she said, adding that the first-day-of-school jitters usually only lasts about the first 20 minutes. “Then they see their friends having fun and they’re okay.”
To help keep those jitters at bay, Dunman organized a fun activity for the kids. “We’re having a coloring contest. They like it and it helps me see how well they color and how their coordination is.”
As for the start of the new school year, Dunman was thrilled to share that “it’s going good.”
“Salemburg is a really nice school. I love working here and working with the children,” she added.
That same positive start to the 2013-2014 school year was also evident at Sunset Avenue School.
“I’m very pleased. It’s been a wonderful start,” praised new principal Antoine McGill, who welcomed the car riders to the first day of school. “The kids got out of the cars with smiles. They all seem very excited.”
Assistant principal Jennifer Hill was also on hand to greet the bus riders. “It all went smoothly. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start.”
“Orientation went smooth as well. I think that really set the precedent for today,” added McGill.
McGill also credited the city school system’s opening day ceremony with providing motivation and encouragement going into the new school year.
“It set a good mood and provided motivation especially for the teachers,” said McGill, noting that teachers need that encouragement particularly in light of the challenges they face from the legislature. “It was a morale booster…the teachers are bringing that energy into the classrooms and we’re going to continue with that momentum throughout the rest of the year.”
“And add rigor to that excitement and really push our instruction,” interjected Hill in agreement.
Like Sunset’s leaders, the school’s teachers were equally excited to kick-off another school year.
Fourth grade teacher Sherry Royal shared that the first day, even for teachers, is “exciting and nervous,” adding that after 21 years in education she still “never sleeps the night before” the first day.
Excited about her new students, Royal shared that she is fortunate to have the opportunity to teach fourth grade. “They’re ready. That’s what’s great about fourth grade. They’re independent but they still want to follow the rules.”
Similarly, fifth grade teacher Amy Spell, who has been teaching for 17 years, noted that “there’s always a lot of nerves” on the first day of school for everyone.
However, she is most “excited about getting to know my students… excited about what the future has in store for these children.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.