08/22/08 — Parents, children scope out county elementary schools

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Parents, children scope out county elementary schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 22, 2008 1:37 PM

Cathy Cogdell began teaching at Fremont STARS Elementary School 21 years ago. She left briefly to teach at a private school and returned last year.

Thursday evening at the school's open house, she said she was ready for classes to resume on Monday.

"I love it," she said of her school. "It's small and you get to know the kids individually."

And no, the veteran educator isn't as nervous as some of her counterparts.

"I teach the fun class," the physical education teacher said.

Open house was held Thursday evening at all the public elementary schools across the county.

For Sheila Wolfe, it will be a year of "new" -- position, staff, students and school. In her first year as principal, she is confident about her surroundings.

"We've got a good staff," she said. "Just on-the-go and ready to do anything you need them to do. They truly don't need a leader, they need a supporter. Principals are usually here for two or three years, so they're used to leading themselves."

She'll bring some added support, in the form of her 8-year-old twin daughters, Kimberlee and Katherine. The third-graders will be in the same class, they said.

The school's new part-time guidance counselor is also a familiar face, Ms. Wolfe said.

Barbara Wilkins, a veteran in the school system, came out of retirement as a principal to work at Fremont. Her association with Ms. Wolfe goes back two decades.

"She was the assistant principal at Carver Heights that hired me 20 years ago," Ms. Wolfe said. They later reunited at Brogden Primary, when Mrs. Wilkins was principal and Wolfe was a physical education teacher.

Parents and children filed into the auditorium for a brief meeting before being dispatched to individual classrooms. Ms. Wolfe used it as an opportunity to introduce herself and to provide encouragement for a successful school year.

Ken Hooks was there with daughter Kimberly, a first-grader.

"She's been here two years already -- More at Four and kindergarten," he said. "So it's not like that very first day for her."

Mark Lane accompanied granddaughter Taylor Lane, 6. She was excited about meeting her teacher, Miss Whaley, she said.

"It's fun," she said about going to school.

Her favorite thing, she said, is "to play outside." Thinking a moment, she added, "I like to read, too."

Second-grader Mark Moor-ing was there for the open house, too, along with his parents Eddie and Marcia.

His favorite part of going back to school?

"What I like to do is going outside and making new friends every class every year," he said.

"He's ready for school," his mother said. "I work as a sub (at Fremont). I love the teachers here. It's just a good family atmosphere."

At Northwest Elementary School, hallways were packed with families milling around finding classes and meeting teachers.

Guidance counselor Aman-da Hesselmeyer was directing people to classes and answering questions. The staff was ready for them, she said.

"I think everybody's getting there, everybody's excited, coming back fresh and ready to go," she said.

Brandy Parker, 9, will be in fourth grade, but mom Amanda said it is her first year at Northwest, transferring from Wayne Christian.

Fortunately, she "likes school, especially science and math," Brandy said. She also knew some students at the school, although she hadn't seen them yet.

Lasuan Mallard -- there with sons Kentrell, 7, and Isaiah, 6 -- had already visited classrooms and was en route to getting bus information.

Yoshema Vann brought her 3-year-old daughter Shaniya to see son Devontay's school.

"We talked to the teachers and they talked to him and they're ready for him on Monday," she said.

Devontay was a little more uncertain about the whole thing, although he agreed there was one subject he liked.

"Gym," he said, adding, "and maybe math."

Deana Garrou, holding 4-month-old son, Grant, walked with husband, Tom, and their 5-year-old son, Zachary, who starts kindergarten this year.

"We came before," Tom said. "It's pretty big. He's excited, and he's not excited."

"It's a little bit overwhelming," Deana noted.

"Because he's come from a smaller school for pre-K," dad explained.

The question is, are they ready to cross that threshold of sending their firstborn off to school?

"Ready or not, it's coming," Tom said. "We're prepared pretty much and (the school) made it easy for us to do."

Paul and Melanie Parrish were not quite there yet.

Son Josh is a third-grader, but it's the first year for Katie, who will be in kindergarten.

Paul said he was away when Josh started school, and recalls telling his wife, "Be strong." Now that his youngest is heading off to school, he is having trouble following his own advice.

"It's about to kill me with her," he said.

Mrs. Parrish admitted she, too, already had "tears in my eyes as we send Katie to kindergarten."

As if on cue, Katie bounced up to her parents, flashing a smile.

"I'm ready to go," she said, as she looked down the hallway to her new classroom.