08/20/10 — Schools meet, greet

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Schools meet, greet

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 20, 2010 1:46 PM

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Troy Herring

Fremont STARS Elementary School teacher Allison Wolfe, right, goes over a book with her new student, Blake Fazakerly, left, and his sister, Meghan, during open house Thursday night. Similar events were held at elementary schools around the county to allow students and parents a first look before school resumes on Aug. 25.

Veteran educator Carole Battle, in her fourth year as principal at Carver Heights Elementary School, welcomed parents and students to open house Thursday night.

She is looking forward to another school year, she said.

"We're going to work on the core curriculum, 21st century skills, the global economy and focus on the importance of graduation because it begins in elementary school," she said.

Educators there were already picking up on the theme, displaying memorabilia from college alma maters to encourage students to formulate their own plan.

Jackie Rogers, a Title I math teacher, is one of three sisters who teach at the school -- Doris Hopes is assigned to fourth grade and Shannon Rivenbark to third.

"It's OK, it has its moments," Mrs. Hopes said with a smile when asked about working with her siblings.

Mrs. Rogers started working at the school 12 years ago, one year after her sisters.

"I'm looking forward to new challenges," she said of the approaching school term. "The kids bring something new every year. You think it's going to be the same, but there's always a new challenge, and we learn more from them. Sometimes they teach us new strategies."

This will be Samantha Abrahamsom's first year of teaching. The Eastern Wayne High and recent East Carolina University graduate is assigned to second grade.

"I'm ready to get started. I can't wait to have all my kids in my classroom," she said Thursday night. "I'm ready. I spent four years preparing for this, so I'm more than ready."

Tasha Pearsall accompanied daughter Asia, who will be a kindergartner, and son Tzyhaun Claude, a fifth-grader who moves up to Dillard Middle this year.

"I will miss my teachers," he said as he greeted several he had while at Carver Heights.

Asia, meanwhile, said she likes to read and draw and is looking forward to making new friends.

"I know she'll have a good experience here," Ms. Pearsall said. "They have great teachers, great activities for the children and a good structured curriculum here."

Tammy Croom is the mother of four children who are students at Carver Heights, ranging in age from "9 to 8," she said.

"Three of them are triplets," she quickly explained.

Johnathan, Joesph and Joshua, 8, are third-graders and Isaiah is in fourth grade.

Mrs. Croom also has two older children, Howard, Jr., who will be in fifth grade, and daughter Cassie, an eighth-grader, both at Dillard Middle.

Open houses at the middle and high schools will be held on Monday night.

The two older Croom children both said they enjoy school.

"I like the teachers and I like gym class, math class and Fast Forward (a computer program)," Howard said.

Reading is Cassie's favorite subject. She also likes writing.

"I like to write poetry and stories. I write stories for children my little brothers' age," she said.

Outside Tommy's Road Elementary School, people started gathering before the doors were unlocked for the open house event.

Chuckie Mayros arrived ahead of her granddaughter, Abigale Game, new to the school this year as a fifth-grader.

Chris Smith was also there with her granddaughter, Breanna Portwood, another student assigned to the same class.

"We're going to meet her teacher and (Breanna's) mom is coming after she gets off work," Ms. Smith said.

Ghyda Muharram, her long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail, played with the Silly Bandz on her arm as mom Wadad Algazzly tended Ghyda's younger brother in a stroller.

The family moved to the U.S. from Yemen five years ago, spending three years in California before coming to Wayne County two years ago.

She is "excited to be going to school," even the homework part, said Ghyda, who will be a kindergartner.

"She likes to draw, to read stories, to watch TV -- Nick Jr., it helps her with English so much," Ms. Muharram said.

Returning to Tommy's Road this year as principal is Wendy Hooks, the school's assistant principal when it first opened in 2000.

Jennifer Keefer was also at the school then and has remained, as a parent and staffer who works in the office.

"My daughter was here in first grade when Mrs. Hooks was here as assistant principal and now my son is in second grade here," she said. "I love it. She has a lot to offer. I think that it will be as good this year as it's been in the past, if not better."

Mrs. Hooks, reassigned from Brogden Primary School when Patsy Faison retired in the spring, said she was excited to be back.

"The teachers, the staff are very prepared," she said. "I'm confident in their ability to teach the children here at Tommy's Road. Mrs. Faison has left things in order and I really feel like I'm home again. ... They seem like a very close-knit family."

Open house is always a favorite event for the administrator, she said.

"It sets the tone," she said. "As a new principal here, because I'm new to a lot of people, it gives me the opportunity to walk around, introduce myself, let them know that I'm here for them, and we're here to provide the best possible education here at Tommy's Road."

The school has five beginning teachers this fall, said Heather Holzworth, former assistant principal at Eastern Wayne Elementary and now a teacher learning coach in charge of first-, second- and third-year teachers. She is also assigned to Mount Olive and Rosewood middle schools.

Amy Clark will tackle her first year with her own classroom, having been previously a teacher assistant at Brogden Primary.

An exceptional children's teacher working with third and fourth grade, she brings a unique perspective to the role, having twin 9-year-old sons who are both high-functioning autistic.

"I'm excited, I'm very nervous of course, but I'm very excited to get in and work with the kids and meet their IEP (individual education plans), just helping them be successful," she said.

Dante Johnson, a fifth-grade science teacher, has been teaching for two years, so approaches the coming year differently.

"I feel a little bit more at ease, a little more confident," he said. "Overall, I feel much better knowing what I have to do. ... I'm looking forward to working with the students I had with my internship, when they were in second grade, to see their growth and their enthusiasm for continued learning."