Martrinez Elementary kindergarten teacher Debbie French (left) and paraprofessional Debbie Zwanziger organize their materials for the class. Teachers and paraprofessionals officially reported back to school on Wednesday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
While Columbia County students wrung out every drop of leisure left in the summer, teachers worked frantically this past week preparing for the start of school.
Children slept late, shopped for school supplies and hung out with friends while teachers put together colorful classroom bulletin boards, developed lesson plans and attended meetings - lots of them.
Preparation is the key to a successful school start, and a successful year, said Laura Collins, seventh grade math and pre-algebra teacher at Greenbrier Middle School.
"The more organized you are the first few days, the smoother the year goes," she said.
As she entered her 16th year of teaching, Collins arranged her classroom according to tried-and-true methods that have proved successful from wall charts to desk placements. An enrichment bookcase with challenges such as mind bender puzzles sits in one corner of her classroom, and a homework assignment board occupies a prominent place in front.
Before Tuesday classes begin, Collins will update her class Web page and have more than two weeks of lesson plans in the books with the belief that proactive organizing starts the school year off the right way.
Although Collins has years of experience, Lisa Hudson begins her first year with the school system as the Stevens Creek Elementary school nurse. Hudson, who has worked in private practice and has a background in psychiatric nursing, looks forward to getting to know her colleagues at school and meeting her young charges when the doors open Tuesday.
An organized room with files neatly placed and papers logically arranged will greet students and parents who might never know the effort that task required. While Hudson worked on her office, she was planning not only days ahead, but weeks ahead for the vision and hearing tests this fall. She also hopes to do some staff development on health issues using her past experience as a base.
"I'm excited about being able to integrate my past role into the present one," said Collins, whose education and background gives her a holistic approach to health.
The transformation of Hudson's office from chaos to order occurred in schools throughout Columbia County this past week.
"Yesterday morning you couldn't walk into this room. When I left (in the afternoon), it was a real classroom," said Lenoir Stokes, fourth grade teacher at Riverside Elementary.
Between decorating classrooms and preparing open house materials, the team of fourth grade teachers attended county and school level meetings, then attended grade level meetings so they could together work as a group presenting a coordinated curriculum to students.
On Tuesday, teachers expect to hear some groans from students who complain the summer wasn't long enough, but many students will be relieved to return to the comfortable routine of the classroom.
"The kids are real excited about getting back. They are a little bored," said fourth grade teacher Chris Holloway.
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