New crayons and the new pencils, pocket folders, binders, tennis shoes and a new teacher are all a part of what makes the first day of school so exciting for Jackson Local elementary students.
New crayons and the new pencils, pocket folders, binders, tennis shoes and a new teacher are all a part of what makes the first day of school so exciting.
This year, Jackson Local Schools started on Aug. 20. Students and teachers were nervous at the start of the day. By the end of the first day, new friends were made and the tone and routines were setup for the year.
J.R. Reindel, principal at Lake Cable Elementary School, started his first day of school watching students file in the building for the start of the new year.
“The focus of the first day is to lay a good solid foundation for the whole year,” Reindel said. “We focus on building relationships with students by engaging students and tapping into the excitement felt at the beginning of the year. We also take the first day to communicate procedures and expectations so classrooms can run smoothly. It’s also an important day to establish a learning community that is safe and positive.”
Reindel said that the first day always has a sense of excitement and newness because everything is new. Everyone has new school supplies, students have new clothes, the teachers are new to the students and there is a sense of hope for students and parents.
“On the first day,” Reindel said, “students come in thinking that it’s going to be a great year or it’s going to be ‘my year.’”
It’s also a culmination of a whole lot of preparation.
Reindel said it takes weeks and months to get ready for the first day. The building maintenance team cleans the classrooms and the teachers spend a lot of time preparing their classrooms by putting up bulletin boards and labeling things for their students. The office staff gets into the action by processing paperwork for new students and other activities.
“The momentum of the first day carries through the entire first week, then the first month and then the first grading period,” Reindel said.
Gail Evanchan, a second grade teacher who has been teaching at Lake Cable Elementary for more than 20 years has seen just about everything on her first days of school.
“The newness and freshness of the first day represent great beginnings and endings, which are both meaningful,” Evanchan said. “It’s great to meet the students and watch them grow through the year and then see how far they have progressed by the last day of school.
“It’s also a nervous day,” Evanchan continued, “because the students are worried about their teaching liking them and the teachers are worried about the students liking them.”
Evanchan used to teach kindergarten and said that those students are the most nervous about the first day. That’s why it’s important to take the first day slow and set the tone and let the students get into the routines of their new classroom.
Kelsey Royer, also a second grade teacher at Lake Cable Elementary, was experiencing her first day of teaching in the Jackson Local district. Her first year of teaching was last year at an elementary school in North Carolina.
“I was nervous about my first day this year,” Royer said. “One of my students this morning said she was nervous and missed her mother and I told her I was nervous too. I gave her a hug and that helped us both relax and we both had a great first day.”
For Royer, the first day of school is also exiting. It flies by and is over before you know it. She learned many things last year and feels better prepared this year.
“I learned last year to model everything in order to be really clear about expectations and routines and that all starts on the first day,” Royer said.
READY TO LEARN
Each year, before the official start of school, Jackson Local schools host open houses. Students and parents are able to come into the school to see their classroom and meet their teacher a week before the first day of school. The students are also able to bring in their supplies and get organized in their classroom during the open house.
Kristin Pavlis, mother of 8-year-old Alayna, said she and her daughter have been preparing for the first day for more than a month. They have been getting the supply list together and shopping for school clothes.
“We both got up early this morning and Alayna had butterflies in her stomach,” Kristin said. “She got to meet her teacher and the principal during the open house and that helped her feel more comfortable about the first day. I remember my first days of school and that makes me nervous for her.”
Alayna seemed to have all of the nerves worked out by the end of the day. She met up with her mother after school and was excited about the day.
“I had lots of fun today,” Alayna said. “My favorite part was reading about science and the math.
Admittedly, Alayna has some work to do to get ready for the next few days.
“I do have some homework,” she said. “I have to cover my books.”
As the day ended, the parents were picking up their kids and the buses were pulling up in front of the building. The kids still had plenty of energy as they filled the halls and waited to tell mom or dad how the first day of school came and went.
“The day was cool,” Alayna said, “because the teacher asked everyone what they did over the summer and we got to ask students to do activities like play air guitar.”