The new school year is finally breezing in, carrying with it a sense of anticipation, excitement, and at times, anxiety. This is, after all, a season for fresh starts, clean slates and all that.
Nine-year-old Allen Anderson is one of those kids who was more than ready to get to it. He has been counting the days, in fact, to starting his fourth-grade year at Sunray Elementary, where he'll be in a select group using new laptop computers for much of the classwork.
"Usually it's very fun. You meet your new teacher and you get to know who your classmates are, and you might find out that some of your old class is in this year's class," he said as he ran the Boy Scout table with his mom during last week's orientation.
No doubt the first week is a re-entry period for many, with time spent reviewing school rules and procedures and easing into the new routine.
And it's a welcome surprise for second-year teacher Evelyn Falleur, who was eager to greet a new crop of students who grew, it seems, by leaps and bounds over the summer.
"I'm just so happy to be here — to have a job," said Falleur, who was one of many teachers laid off at the end of the last school year. She was hired back under a short-term contract to cover for another teacher who is out on maternity leave.
Then there are those who are moving up along with their students.
"I get so excited — I get totally excited. Though it can be a little overwhelming, too," said Danielle Whitlock, who will be teaching first grade for the first time after two years of kindergarten. She is looking forward to learning and discovering new things with the same group of students she taught last year.
"In kindergarten, there's more chaos. First grade is more calm," she said. "They come in more prepared. They're ready for the curriculum. There's a lot more independence, but there's also more expectations. Last year, I was teaching them how to tie their shoes. This year, they'll be learning more; things like science and math, adding and subtracting."
There's some homework, too. But in these first few days, it's easy stuff — at least in Roberta Schmidt's first-grade classroom, where the basic requirement is to simply come to school with a smile on your face.
"It's really about the kids," said Schmidt, who is starting her ninth year of teaching at Sunray. "That's the most enjoyable part of the day, being with the kids."
• Make sure your child eats a good breakfast and pack a good lunch to sustain them all day. — Seven Springs Elementary teacher Paula Stutzman
• Establish a home routine for before and after school. For example, no TV or video games in the morning and no homework in the morning. — Seven Springs Elementary guidance counselor Beth Strickland
• Take time to read with your child, even if it is only 10 minutes. Ask about your child's school day. If you want any response to "What did you do in school today?" ask brief, positive questions such as "What friends are in your class?" or "What was your favorite activity today?" — Richey Elementary principal Ken Meisner
• Stay in contact with your child's teacher. Be sure to check your child's planner every day. That's how a lot of teachers communicate with parents. And you can always e-mail them, too. — Sunray Elementary first-grade teacher Megan Carlson
• Volunteer at the school; attend Open House. — Richey Elementary assistant principal Courtney Claud
• Parent involvement is a big key to success and it doesn't necessarily mean being at the school volunteering all the time. Talk to your kids about what they've been learning in school. Find out who their friends are and just have those great conversations. — Gulfside Elementary principal Chris Clayton
• Smile and be ready to make new friends. — Anclote Elementary kindergarten teacher Dawn Decker
• Come to school prepared and do your homework. — Anclote Elementary fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Wray
• Arrive on time. — Anclote Elementary front office secretary Barbara O'Brien
• Stay organized and utilize the planner. Be involved with activities on campus. Read through notes taken in class everyday — this will help when studying for exams. — Pasco High career specialist Mignon Edwards