08/24/11 — Elementary students get first peek at school

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Elementary students get first peek at school

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 24, 2011 1:46 PM

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Gail Richards, center, Spring Creek Elementary School principal, greets parents and students in the hallway during open house at the school Tuesday evening. School begins Thursday.

In kindergarten Room 152 of North Drive Elementary School mid-afternoon Tuesday, Rosalind Croom quietly sat at a desk enjoying a peanut butter sandwich.

It was perhaps the lull before the storm, as teachers and staff geared up for open house before the first day of classes Thursday.

"We're ready," said Ms. Croom, an instructional assistant who has been at the school "a long time," 21 years.

"We have already met a couple of students," she said. "The children are ready. I believe that one little one was ready because he didn't want to leave."

The classroom was all brightly decorated and ready for the 23 students registered, she said.

"I'm excited to meet the parents, and we're looking for a great year," she said.

The school's theme this year is "Going Above and Beyond," said Gregg Brown, a Title I reading teacher, or literacy coach, who works with all grades.

"The teachers all want to go above -- come in a little earlier, leave a little later," he said. "The other part is, we want children to bust through the roof. Our kids can do it, they're very intelligent and smart. They can do it and we intend to bring it out every way we can."

This is Brown's 22nd year of teaching and he admits he still gets a few butterflies, the good kind.

"Every group of children that comes in, it's going to be different," he said. "It doesn't matter if you have taught for 50 years. It's a different group and you have to wake up every morning, you have to really come in with a feeling that it's the first time you have taught ... you're going to have to create something different.

"There's an old saying, today is the first day of the rest of your life -- Today is the first day of the rest of their education."

Over at Meadow Lane Elementary School, the marquee out front hints at the theme for the year, welcoming "Queen Bee" Debbie Ogburn as principal. She was formerly administrator at Carver Elementary in Mount Olive.

"I'm just very excited," she said of her new surroundings. "Great staff, they have been so supportive and so helpful. I'm just ready to buzz into it."

Down one hallway, bulletin boards continued the theme -- "Come see what all the buzz is about," "Bee all that you can be."

At the entrance to Bonnie Bucher's fourth-grade room was a large tablet bearing the names of all 20 students, welcoming the "Class of 2020."

"I'm very excited," she said. "I have good plans for animal studies -- we're going to be studying animals the first nine weeks."

Including bees, she said, noting that the school's librarian, Kim Hicks, happens to be a beekeeper so her expertise will be included in the lesson.

"We'll also be studying rocks and North Carolina and tracking the hurricane" predicted for this weekend, she said.

This marks Mrs. Bucher's third year as a teacher, after nearly a decade as a teacher assistant. Having her own instructional assistant this year will also provide a reunion of sorts, as she is joined by Donna Retcher, a 19-year veteran in the field.

"We used to eat lunch together," Mrs. Bucher said.

Across the hall, Syreeta Worrells brought her niece, Alana Roberson, 9, to open house. Alana, who likes science and math, is already familiar with the school, not only as a student; her mom, Andreana Worrells, is a teacher assistant for first grade.

Quyana Vann Leonard, 9, was a bit more reserved about the experience.

The new student is transferring in from Carver. Mom Pauline Leonard was filling out last-minute paperwork in the office for her daughter and son, Quimel Leonard, who will be in kindergarten.

Despite feelings of shyness, Quyana said she likes math and has a plan for her new school.

"I'll try to meet new friends and learn something new," she said.

"It feels exciting because they get to further their education and get to learn new different things and take on different challenges," Ms. Leonard said. "I'm very excited, I'm ready for the school year."

Jennifer Gunn, PTA president this year, arrived early to set up a membership table and cookies and lemonade. Her own son, 6-year-old Hayden, has also been preparing for school for awhile, she said.

"He's been ready to go for maybe a month," she said. "He tells me every day, is it today? Is it today?"

School counselor Michelle Gurley directed traffic in the entrance area as a steady stream of parents and relatives arrived with children. Her husband, Chris, kept their three daughters occupied in her office. Two of the girls, she said, are now students at Meadow Lane.

"It's wonderful having them here at the same school," Mrs. Gurley said. "It makes it easier, them coming to school with me."

Caroline Gurley, 6, a first-grader, hadn't met her teacher yet but said she believed two friends might be in her multi-age class. She mused about what she might wear for her back-to-school outfit.

"I bet I know. Mama, on the first day, let me pick it out because I'm a big girl," she said.

"Let me see what it is first," replied her mother.

For fourth-grader Morgan Gurley, 9, it's all about making new friends and having fun.

At that moment, Riley Thompson, also 9, ran into the room.

"Morgan, I missed you!" she said of her "really good friend."

And while they won't share the same classroom this year, the bond was evident as they chatted up a storm in the counseling office.

"We played together literally every day on the playground," Riley said.

Are they ready for the first day of school?

"Yes and no," Riley said. "Yes because I'm missing my friends and no because I don't like to get up so early."