08/25/09 — Back in class

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Back in class

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 25, 2009 1:46 PM

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Dillard Middle School teacher Carlton Stevens, left, helps seventh-grade student Shutonea Fisher find her classroom this morning on her first day back to school.

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Donovan Banks, center, and his mother, Denise Banks, left, greet his new second-grade teacher at Meadow Lane Elementary School, Sybil Wallace, with some classroom supplies this morning. More than 19,000 students in Wayne County started school today. Kindergarten classes for the remainder of the week will be staggered to allow students to transition into the routine.

Sonja Emerson, assistant principal at Tommy's Road Elementary School, was positioned outside the entrance bright and early this morning.

She cheerily greeted students and parents, who began to arrive shortly after 7:30.

"Good morning, Linwood," she said to one. "You're a fifth-grader -- part of the senior class!"

Linwood Brinson, accompanied by his father, took it all in stride. The thing he most looked forward to, he said, was "recess."

The first day of school is always filled with nervous energy, Ms. Emerson said.

"Everyone's anxious, butterflies in the stomach -- whether you're staff, students, family, day care owners, bus drivers," she said, acknowledging familiar faces returning to school.

"And you come up with a butterfly on your shirt," she said as second-grader Ayanna Bynum walked up to receive a hug from the assistant principal.

It was surprisingly easy to get up this morning, mom Monique Bynum said.

"We were excited, so it wasn't hard at all," she said. "I have another daughter going to Eastern Wayne. My husband took her, so it's a new experience for both. This will be the first time my girls have been separated (in school)."

The image prompted Ms. Emerson to continue her comparison of the start of school to the process of becoming a butterfly.

"It's a transformation," she said. "Maybe you don't start over each year like a caterpillar, but each year your wings get a little stronger."

As buses began to arrive, parents and students gathered in the lobby before the first bell rang.

Phyllis Radford carried a large bag of supplies while granddaughter Hanna McKeithan was weighed down with a backpack she admitted was already heavy.

The bookbag contained "notebooks and markers and all that," Hanna said. "It hurts."

Rod Pace waited patiently for his wife to drop off his two sons, Enijah and Janautica, both in third grade this year.

"I told them I would walk them into class," he said. "I just wanted to walk them to class on the first day. They'll always remember things like that. I try to put a positive influence into it."

The boys soon arrived, dressed alike in bright blue polo shirts, admittedly happy that dad was there to help them start the day.

Jennifer Wilson paused near the front door to allow daughter Emma to tie her tennis shoe.

The first-grader was "excited" about the first day of school, her mother said.

Younger daughter Julia will be in kindergarten, but those students operate on a staggered schedule and Julia doesn't report until Thursday, Ms. Wilson said.

"She doesn't like it," she said. "She wants to go today."

Inside the hallways, as staff completed last-minute preparations and principal Patsy Faison gave the building a final once-over, teachers braced themselves for new groups of students.

"It's exciting," said Andrea Malpass, a first-grade teacher. "This is my 25th year of teaching. It looks like I have got a wonderful class."

She has 24 students this year, Ms. Malpass said. And yes, even teachers get the first-day jitters.

"Just getting back into the routine," she explained. "By the end of the day, we'll feel like we have been here a month or two."

Much has been done to ready for the first day, Ms. Faison said -- from preparing classrooms and the building, to receiving a lot of new people to the staff.

"We're just looking forward to a great year," she said. "The best is yet to come."