Teachers head back
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 16, 2013 1:46 PM
First-year teacher Michelle Rutledge cuts out laminated book covers in her sixth grade language arts classroom at Norwayne Middle School Thursday afternoon. She plans to use them to create a bulletin board titled "There's a Book for That."
Michelle Rutledge wanted to set her alarm early so she wouldn't be late for school Thursday.
"My plan was to wake up at 4, but I woke up at 3 and just started reading," she said, attributing that to "just the adrenaline, going back to school."
Michelle Darden also was afraid she'd oversleep.
"I get really excited about the first day of school, what to do, what to wear," she said.
Donna Countryman was taking no chances.
"I laid out my clothes last night (Wednesday) because it's dark when you get up in the morning," she said. "And I did pack lunch -- chicken salad and crackers, barbecue chips from Alabama, and a Pop Tart, chocolate.
"I have been getting up every day at 6 o'clock so 5:45 wasn't that bad."
Ted Acorn was more laid-back. He showed up at Norwayne Middle School in a gray soccer T-shirt, dark gray shorts and a comfortable pair of sneakers.
Back-to-school jitters are to be expected this time of year, as classes resume across Wayne County.
But these are the teachers.
Students in Wayne County Public Schools aren't due to set foot on campus until Aug. 26.
Mrs. Rutledge, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Norwayne, is one of the district's newest teachers but says she is ready for the 90 students she'll have in her three classes.
"I do have ideas and I have been all over Pinterest," she said. "But I will probably rely on other teachers. I'm looking forward to learning from them."
Thursday and today were required workdays for the new teachers. Veterans could choose to come in, with those having leave time allowed to opt out, but everyone must report on Monday. Next week will be devoted to staff development and open houses.
Mrs. Countryman has been teaching for seven years. The exceptional children's teacher is new to Northeast Elementary School this year, having transferred from Edgewood Community Developmental School.
Acorn, a sixth-grade math teacher at Norwayne, is also soccer coach. This is his 19th year as a teacher.
As he put books onto a shelf in the classroom, he said he likes to hit the ground running.
"My first day, I like to start teaching pretty much that day," he said. "With kids coming in from elementary school, they don't know what to expect so we have to go over that first."
Mrs. Darden, another sixth-grade language arts teacher at Norwayne, has been in the profession for "20-some years," she said.
"I have lost count," she joked.
She was especially happy on the first day, as she had learned the student teacher assigned to her was one of her former students, Marah Radford, now a senior at Mount Olive College.
"It's a completely different ballgame," Ms. Radford said of returning to her alma mater as a potential teacher. "I'm excited to come back here."
"If she's any kind of teacher like she was student, she'll be awesome," Mrs. Darden said.
Sixth-grade math teacher Pod Besek has been at the school seven years. The main thing she packed for her return was her plants.
"I'm getting ready for the open house," she said as she arrived. "I think everybody is anticipating a good year. I think all teachers are still excited, still committed, and with that comes excitement, bringing new students in and getting the best out of them."
Mrs. Darden agreed with the sentiment, saying it represents the heart of a devoted teacher.
"If you ever run into a teacher that's not excited about the very first day, you don't need to be here," she said. "It's almost impossible not to be excited."