Meet your teacher ...
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 23, 2013 1:46 PM
Shaunita Ezzell fills out some paperwork while her son Jishon Croom, 6, watches as his homeroom teacher, Christine Smith, explains what they will be doing in class at Carver Heights Elementary School this year.
Spring Creek Elementary School first-grade teacher Sherri Staps, right, talks to student James Alexander about some of the fun things they will do this year while his mother, Candy Alexander, watches.
Aaliyah Moses stood quietly by her father as they waited for directions to her new classroom at North Drive Elementary School late Thursday afternoon.
The third-grader enjoys school, she said, "because it's fun and educational."
The 8-year-old with aspirations of becoming a veterinarian was there for open house. She said she was looking forward to reuniting with friends and meeting her new teacher, Miss Hill.
"She liked her last year's teacher," said her dad, Eddie Moses. "But I told her, you won't have the same teacher so you have got to get used to a new teacher."
Seven-year-old Adalynn "Addie" Fail, a second-grader assigned to Ms. Coleman's class, was more subdued as she walked through the hallway accompanied by her grandmother, Debbie Kuhnau.
"I'm excited. I don't know about her," Ms. Kuhnau said. "We had a good year here last year."
Addie did volunteer her favorite school subject -- reading.
"She tested last year above a seventh-grade level," her grandmother said proudly. "She loves the chapter books."
In their second-grade classroom, teacher Jessica Barber and instructional assistant Liz King patiently awaited their 21 students. The duo are veterans -- Ms. Barber has been at the school seven years and Ms. King started there in 1998.
And despite the challenges in education, the women admitted it's still fun.
"Everything is new again," Ms. Barber said about the new school year. "It's like you get to start your job all over again."
"You just never know. Never a dull moment," added Ms. King.
A lot at the school is new this year, including its principal Charlenna Bennett-Carter, promoted from assistant principal.
"I'm very anxious, I'm excited, looking forward to the new year," she said. "We have our building ready and it's pretty and inviting.
"We have been working very hard. We're short a custodian. The teachers just picked up and they did the front lawn ... I'm very excited how my staff came together and filled in the gaps."
At the entrance of Eastern Wayne Elementary School, Principal Kelly Capps greeted parents and students, welcoming them to open house.
This year's schoolwide theme is "Dive-In," she said, explaining it is actually an acronym -- Differentiated Instruction Values Everyone. In addition to team teaching throughout all grades, the effort is a way to make sure students' needs are served.
Outside Donna Underwood's class, a colorful message adorned the wall -- "Kindergarten is oceans of fun," while each of her 17 students' names were written on a different sea creature.
"I was ready for school to start back," she said. "We're excited about new instructional strategies this year, lots of team teaching, collaborative work. Plus we get to see all our students returning from years gone by."
One of those was Shirlee Manley, now 6 and entering first grade.
"In school, I like to play on the playground, going to the library, learning and going to the computer lab," she said.
Her mom, Latifah Manley, had mixed emotions.
"I'm happy but I'm sad," she said. "She's getting more independent, but it's a good thing."
Mrs. Underwood and her assistant, Sharon Foye, have worked together for 11 years, she said.
"We're sisters. We're best friends," Mrs. Underwood said, as her own family entered the classroom.
Husband, David, arrived with their three daughters -- Sarah Beth, a sixth-grader who had just come from her own open house at Eastern Wayne Middle School, Anna, a first-grader, and Molly, 4, who will be at Montessori School.
"It's kind of scary but I'm excited," said Sarah Beth, explaining that she will be changing classes at the middle school, "but only two times."
Fifth-grader Lakya Sophia Brandy is an old hand at navigating open house and first days of school.
"Whenever it's open house, basically we just come in and will meet our teachers and get to know them a little better," she explained.
She had already introduced herself to her new classroom teacher as well as the music teacher, since she had been in chorus the previous year. Her favorite subject, though, is science, she said, and one day she plans to be a veterinarian.
The 10-year-old was accompanied by her mom, Renaye Johnson, who has also become a fixture at the school.
"I'm very involved with her," Ms. Johnson said. "Even when she was in the other class, I'd go on field trips and help out in the classroom. And all the kids know me."
They're excited about classes starting on Monday. Lakya has all her supplies ready, her mother said, and has several outfits picked out for the first day.