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First year teachers anxious to get it right
Open houses Wednesday, classes Thursday
zapf at smartboard
First year teacher Tracey Zapf works on her first-day lecture to students on the smart board in her classroom at Joseph Martin Elementary School. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
As another school year starts tomorrow excitement, anticipation and a little bit of nervousness, will again fill the halls of Liberty County schools. And it’s not just the students who are wondering what the first day of school will bring.
On Monday afternoon, Joseph Martin Elementary School teacher Tracey Zapf put the finishing touches on her “Learning Luau.” With some creativity, she’s transformed her classroom into a faux, tropical jungle, complete with grass-lined windows, tropical flowers and a pink flamingo that serves as the class mascot, in hopes of showing her fifth graders learning can be fun.
“I went all out,” she said.
Her room may appear to be that of a seasoned teacher who’s had time to acquire materials, but Zapf is about to embark on her first year teaching.  And although she’s equipped with enthusiasm and student teaching experience, she admits she’s nervous about being in command of a classroom for the first time.
“I’ve had dreams that a hurricane comes and hits only my classroom, but the kids are still coming,” she said jokingly. “So yea, I’m a little nervous.”
She said she’s counting on good classroom management skills to help her succeed in providing a solid education and keeping energetic students under control. She also sought advice from her husband who’s a drill sergeant with the military.
“They’re 10 and 11 years old, going on 21,” she said of her need to be strict. “They’ve got some attitude at this age.”
Also, in hopes of keeping their attention focused on education, Zapf’ stocked her room with educational posters, learning centers and other tools. But there’s one in particular she’s counting on.
Mounted on the wall among the paper palm trees and coconuts, is a large white screen known as a smart board, a piece of technology she’s thrilled to use.
In her hands she excitedly held another smaller screen and explained how the handheld version allowed her to access the internet, write Word documents, and explore educational programs from all over the room while the results display on the board. She said it’s a great way to get the students to interact with the lesson plan.
“They just love it [technology]. They feed off it,” Zapf said.
She said the school system’s attention to technology was one of the deciding factors in her taking the job here.
“I wanted to come to Liberty County because they had so much technology,” she said.
The open house for Joseph Martin and all k-12 schools is today from 3-6 p.m. Pre-K open house earlier, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday is the first day of classes for all Liberty County schools.
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