First day means jitters |

First day means jitters

Cindy Ramunno

EAGLE COUNTY – With local public schools starting classes today, some who decided to teach for a living will be beginning their “real life” career today. And 5-year-olds will begin their school career, which will span the next 13 years. Although their roles in the classroom are very different and the age gap is huge, many of the same anxieties exist for first-year teachers and incoming kindergartners.Class of 2017Today, 5-year-olds will be walked into their school for the first time, often as not holding the hand of a parent. This year’s class of kindergartners will graduate from high school in 2017. That seems like a long time, but ask any parent of a graduate and they’ll tell you that those 13 years fly. Kindergartners Remy Beveridge and Boe Hern are attending Brush Creek Elementary and Eagle Valley Elementary, respectively. Both were born in Glenwood Springs and have parents who were products of the Eagle County School District. Both are the oldest child in their immediate families, so the adventure into kindergarten is a new experience.Remy will attend full-time in Donna Dino’s classroom. Her backpack will contain one notebook with purple and pink stripes, and another with flowers on it, among other things. She’s intent on trying the hot lunch program, unless the menu lists something she doesn’t like, of course. “If it’s tuna, I’m bringing a cold lunch,” Remy declares. She’s eager to learn how to read and is looking forward to the “specials” classes, which include art, music and PE. “I’m excited to go to art and I think it’s cool that I can learn new stuff” she says. Remy credits kindergarten round-up helped her and said she thought it was a good idea that they checked everyone’s eyesight. “I liked looking at the eye chart” she says.Boe will ride his bike with his dad, Joe, walking beside him on his first day of school. His mom is at the hospital having his baby sister, so she”ll hear about it later from her oldest son. “I”m going to the same school as Mommy and Daddy,” says a proud Boe. He will attend part-time and be in Susan Forsyth’s classroom. Forsyth “loops” with her students, which means she begins with her students in kindergarten and then moves up to first grade with the same group. Boe says he’s looking forward to music class and likes the playground at the school. “I don”t remember how many swings they have, though” he says thoughtfully. Boe insists that he already knows his alphabet and numbers. “Papa teached me” he says, and adds that now he’ll learn at school and at home.Big jobKindergartners aren’t the only ones with butterflies in their stomachs today. New teachers have their challenges, too. Jamie Mayne was a recent Eagle Valley High School graduate who will be teaching and coaching at her alma mater this year. Her student-teaching assignment was at the school, and she’ll be teaching art, PE and health. “It”s a lot of material, but it helps that I know most of the staff and students” says Mayne, who also took on the duties of coaching freshmen volleyball and varsity girls basketball. Her boss, Principal Mark Strakbein, said he isn’t worried in the least about Mayne starting her first year as a regular teacher. “She brought a lot to the table and she’s a great addition” says Strakbein. Strakbein acknowledges that beginning a teaching career in a secondary school has different challenges that at the elementary level. “Kids in high school have the ability to know if the teacher knows what he or she is talking about” explains Strakbein, adding that those pressures create a different level of anxiety for new teachers.First-grade teacher Kate Tyler also student taught at the school where she’s beginning her career. At Red Sandstone Elementary, Tyler knows many of the kids and says her position of long-term substitute after student teaching helped her get her foot in the door for a permanent position. “I’m very excited about getting to know the students in my classroom” says Tyler. Principal Nancy Ricci says that the goal of the first day for Tyler’s age group is to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy.”We want the students to learn the expectations and routines on that first day” says Ricci. “We want to create a clear picture for them with no confusion and hopefully have no criers.” The rest of the year…For kindergartners and new teachers, a good experience on the first day of school sets the stage for a happy school year. The school district typically begins classes on a Thursday to ease kids into the transition from summer. If that the first day is a disaster for your child, the following are a few tips for parents offered by Director of Elementary Education Carolyn Neff and Director of Secondary Education Mike Gass.Elementary tips:– If your child is experiencing separation anxiety, be kind but firm and then leave. Teachers are trained to deal with separation issues and won’t let your child experience a stressful day.– If your child comes home from a bad day, talk to your child and pinpoint why. Then, try to problem-solve around the issue at hand. Remember to be consistent in your message that he-she needs to attend school.Secondary tips:– If the issue is frustration at feeling “lost” with a new building layout or locker combination, a “dry run” with an administer without other students around could help.– Encourage your child to connect with an adult or coach in the building to help him-her problem-solve when issues arise.Vail Colorado

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