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School bells ring across county

POSTED: August 7, 2013 9:36 a.m.
Photo by Denise Etheridge/

Joseph Martin Elementary School kindergarten teacher Felecia Thomas goes through some of the supplies she uses in her classroom.

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Liberty County students reported back to classes today. Motorists on roads near the schools noticed short delays as crossing  guards were directing traffic, but no problems had been reported early.

Here's a story about Monday's open houses at the public schools:

Teachers have readied their classrooms, created colorful bulletin boards and stocked shelves with books, educational games and materials, all in preparation for a new school year.
Liberty County public schools held open houses for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Monday afternoon ahead of the 2013-14 school year. Students return to classrooms today.
The Liberty County School System has one pre-K center, seven elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools and a college and career academy.
Several of the system’s schools held early orientations ahead of the system-wide open houses.
Bradwell Institute held Camp BI last week to help ninth-graders acclimate to high school. Snelson-Golden Middle School School holds a “survival camp” each year before school begins for first-time middle-schoolers.
“This year we had over 75 students and parents come to visit the Eagles Nest,” Snelson-Golden Middle School Assistant Principal Dr. Bernadette Crow said. “It is a transitional learning component for students to become acclimated to the school. The parents and students were introduced to teachers and administration. They participated in a scavenger hunt and traveled around the whole school. The things they learned last week were location of classes, how to open a lock, expectations of student behavior, and participated in a bullying seminar.”
Crow said open houses give students an opportunity to locate their classrooms and become familiar with their teams of teachers.
“The parents will also have time to ask any questions, (regarding) lunch, the nurse, athletics, academics, clubs and administration, from the entire staff,” Crow said.
“We want parents to know that we believe in student success, and we will foster a learning environment that is conducive to fulfilling the educational needs of all students. We also want them to know that if they have any questions or concerns, we genuinely welcome them to the nest.”
Snelson-Golden Middle School’s new principal, Tony Norce, greeted students and their parents at the entrance to the school during Monday’s open house.
“It’s been nonstop,” Norce said of the open-house turnout. He said families began lining up at the door before 3 p.m., when the open house began.
“I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m excited to be here,” Norce said. “We have great people on our staff. I see nothing but potential.”
Joseph Martin Elementary School administrators and teachers say they strive to make children and parents more comfortable with the school setting and staff during open house.
Kindergarten teacher Felecia Thomas stood at the door to welcome little ones and their parents. Thomas has been in education for 17 years.
“I always look at the child first to let them know they are important, that they’ll be here at Joseph Martin, that their presence here is important to us,” Thomas said.
She said she shows kindergarteners the classroom and urges them to find their names at their seats.
“This lets me know that they know what their names look like, at least,” Thomas said.
Teachers also offer kindergarten students a tour of the school, and even take them through the lunch line in the cafeteria, Thomas said. This is so kindergartners understand where they need to go and how to retrieve their trays.
“It’s less confusing,” she said.
Thomas also helps ease parents’ concerns when their children start elementary school. She calmly answered one mother’s questions, such as when will her child eat lunch and what supplies are required, during the open house.
“Don’t worry, she’s going to be fine,” Thomas told her.
Joseph Martin Elementary School’s principal and assistant principal, Drs. Kathy Moody and Brittney Mobley, said teachers determine at open house how each child is getting home the first day of school, whether they will walk, ride the bus or get picked up by car. This is for the safety of their students, they explained.
The school administrators said most teachers wait until the first day of school to send handouts home to parents to fill out and return. Handouts normally include free or reduced-price lunch applications and the school’s code of conduct.
Moody said they ask parents to review the code of conduct with their children once they arrive home after the first day of school.
“Parents also have an opportunity to register for Parent Portal (at open house),” Mobley said. “Teachers enter grades as soon as possible, so parents can go into Parent Portal and keep up with their child’s progress.”
Parent Portal also helps parents track their children’s homework assignments, she added.
“Most parents want to know if a child has missing assignments,” Moody said. She said parents can check to see if an assignment is missing and, if so, they can call their child’s teacher.
“It’s a good piece of communication between parents and teachers.”
She said school counselors and the school nurse answered questions at open house regarding any medical concerns parents might have, such as their children’s medications.
She and Mobley said another advantage to open house is that students see their parents interacting with teachers. They said they want parents to continue that interaction throughout the school year.
Open house also gives Joseph Martin Elementary School’s faculty an opportunity to introduce this year’s school theme to students.
“We have a space theme this year,” Thomas said.
Moody and Mobley said the school is giving out complimentary agendas that incorporate the space theme in first through fifth grades.
The children also will learn three important concepts of behavior throughout the year, they said: “Be ready, be responsible and be respectful.”

 

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