In the pre-kindergarten classroom at Sanderlin Elementary School in St. Petersburg, the teacher was as nervous as the students.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things perfectly,'' said Ashley Cooley, 23, of her first-full-time teaching job. "Since I woke up this morning, nervous, I've been drinking lots of water and taking nice slow breaths."
She's not the only one who is nervous.
Lauren Jackson, 3, wore her sparkling shoes to help her calm the jitters.
"It's hard, we're both a little anxious,'' said her father, Jeremy Jackson, 38, of St. Petersburg.
So it went early Monday as public schools in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties reopened Monday for the 2013-2014 academic year.
Students at a few schools this morning were greeted by a famous face: Bill Foster, mayor of St. Petersburg, served as a crossing guard at Shore Acres Elementary School, Melrose elementary and Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School.
Principal Solomon Lowery said he was honored.
"He took time out of his busy schedule," Lowery said. "Hopefully other dignitaries will pitch in, too."
This was his fourth year of volunteering as a guard on the first day of public school, Foster said.
"How did it go? Well, I saw a lot of distracted drivers," Foster said. "People texting, putting on makeup. That was discouraging."
He also noticed the excitement of parents, he said.
"They were smiling and gleeful on their way from the school," said Foster. "They seemed to be thinking, 'yay, the kids are back in school!'" School and law enforcement officials urged motorists to be on alert for school speed zones, kids walking to and from school and yellow buses on the roads.
For hundreds of Pinellas County parents, the school year began prematurely, with a predawn from the superintendent, welcoming students backs for the new year.
The calls were intended to go out Sunday evening, instead of 6 a.m. Sunday.
Other than that, no major problems were reported early Monday as the annual back-to-school routine played out in the Tampa Bay region.