08/21/09 — Meeting their new schools

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Meeting their new schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 21, 2009 1:46 PM

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April Delcour, left, and Lydia Marshall, right, both second-grade teachers at Brogden Primary School, talk about the upcoming year with student Jessie Caballero during the school's open house Thursday. All elementary schools in the county held open houses to prepare students, parents and teachers for Tuesday's first day of class.

Georgia Lei Bryan, 6, patiently colored a picture while her mother attended open house at Dillard Academy on Thursday evening.

"She's ready," mom Gwendolyn Bryan said of the first-grader.

"My Aunt Tina had me studying, she was teaching me math and to add numbers," Georgia Lei said proudly, before glancing in the direction of her 1-year-old brother. "He wants to come to first grade with me."

Ms. Bryan said she was pleased with the introduction to the school, and is looking forward to volunteering in her daughter's classroom this year.

Danielle Baptiste, auxiliary services coordinator at the school, called open house "lots of fun."

"We have got our new principal Brian Smith, new teachers, a football coach signing up kids through Parks and Recreation, and (exceptional children) service providers," she said.

Teachers were also positioned around a long table to assist students and parents with questions.

Deborah Martinez, a new third-grade teacher this year, said she was "overwhelmed a bit, but excited. I'm very ready to start, looking forward to getting to know the students, helping them achieve what they need to achieve, helping to build up their confidence."

Lenea McCoy has two children at the school -- Asiyah Latham, a fourth-grader, and Rodney Rouse, who will be in first grade.

"I'm happy," she said. "They have been in summer school, so it's not so bad. Everything is ready to go so far, just waiting for the first day."

The charter school operates on the same schedule as Wayne County Public Schools.

Across the street at School Street Elementary School, curriculum facilitator Christy Straughan-Haley was busily setting up an information table in the lobby with Kitsie Jones, new literary coach at the school.

Like staff at other elementary schools around the county, they had arrived early Thursday afternoon to make sure classrooms were set up and materials were ready for parents and students attending open house.

School Street is introducing a new theme this year, Ms. Straughan-Haley said -- "smovers," a motivational concept combining the words smile and move.

"We're smoving into a new year, lots of changes, but we're all excited," she said. Then the arrival of some familiar people caught her eye.

"It's the Greene family," she said excitedly, as she rattled off the names of all seven children accompanying mom Mary Greene.

The oldest, Isaiah, 11, a sixth-grader, will be going to Dillard Middle School this year, while siblings Dameon, 9, and Karen, 8, will both be in fourth grade; Kevin, 7, in second grade; Shayla and David, both 6 and in first grade; and Andreah, 5, will also be in first grade.

The challenge of having such a large brood did not seem to faze their mother.

"To me, it's easy," she said. "Some people think it's complicated but to me it's easy. I dress all of them alike every day."

It's all about having a system, she said. Both she and her husband work full-time jobs and alternate duties.

"He does the morning shift, I take the evening shift," she explained. "I help with homework, he does the dinner. We work as a team."

Parent involvement coordinator Teresa Joyner was happy about the start of a new school year.

"We're just excited to welcome back our little babies from last year and new ones to the school," she said. "We're happy to be back and ready to get rolling."

School Street also has a new principal this year, with the retirement of Dan McPhail last spring. Cortrina Smith transferred to the role from Goldsboro Intermediate School. She said she had already witnessed firsthand the "family atmosphere" at her new school.

"I have been here a couple of weeks and they have welcomed me with open arms," she said. "I'm enjoying it, getting back to my elementary roots. I'm able to do fun activities. In elementary school, we like colors, vivid colors."

Beverly Smith, principal at Eastern Wayne Elementary School, agreed that elementary schools get to do fun things beyond preparing the building and making sure all the teachers have their supplies and resources in place in their classrooms.

"We're introducing a western theme this year," she said. "We're all saddled for success. We're going to be rounding up rigor, relevance and relationships."

Class lists were posted, schedules prepared and staff is poised to start school on Tuesday, she said.

"It's a busy time but it's exciting and we're ready," she said.