No first-day jitters for this little girl |

No first-day jitters for this little girl

Cindy Ramunno
Cindy RamunnoRed Hill Elementary kindergartner Macee Harris says she's not worried about going to school this year.

It was just five-and-a-half years ago that Macee Harris was born at Vail Valley Hospital to parents Jim and Tammy. Now Macee, along with the rest of her class – the Class of 2019 – will soon begin their school careers in various kindergarten class across the valley. Eagle County School District elementary schools officially start Friday, as testing and orientations took place the first two days of school. Middle and high school students in the district began their sessions yesterday.

For parents who attended kindergarten 20-plus years ago, the experiences were different, and for some the thought of sending their child is daunting. It’s easy to spot a “kindergarten mom” on the first day of school. Many are fighting tears as their kindergartners eagerly join their peers and wave goodbye. Friday, Jim and Tammy will feel that as they send their blonde, blue-eyed, innocent little beauty through the double doors of Red Hill Elementary and into the realm of public school.

Macee is a lifelong resident of Gypsum and will begin her public school experience in Mrs. Robin Ruff’s class at Red Hill Elementary. The Red Hill Bear Cubs consist of around 330 students in grades K through 5, and the building is located in the Cotton Ranch area, next to Gypsum Creek Middle School. Ruff has the experience, attitude and skills that make an ideal kindergarten teacher. Along with teaching Gypsum kindergartners for the last 10 years, her high energy level and positive approach make the transition seamless for kids entering school for the very first time, and for kids like Macee, who have attended preschool.

Ruff has some definite plans for Macee and her classmates on that first crucial day.

“I start by establishing a safe environment where all feel welcome and loved,” says Ruff, who adds that the next step is introducing the kids to a routine so that kids can know early on what is expected of them. “I also let kids know that it’s OK if they don’t know how to do something. We have fun and keep it simple for the first month of kindergarten.”

“Having fun” was also at the top of Macee’s agenda, along with learning to read. After a summer of swim lessons, flying on a plane for the first time, and playing with friends, Macee is ready to jump into the routine of school. In fact, she’s not nervous at all. She knows all about routine after attending Sunshine Mountain School in Eagle for the past few years.

She also knows about the advantages of having a family member in the school: Her paternal grandmother, Bev Harris, is a teacher at the preschool. At Red Hill Elementary, she’ll get similar advantages.

“My Aunt Lou (Louanna Harris) works at school that I’m going to,” Macee says. The most exciting advantage? “My cousin Tye will be there.”

She’s also excited that her best friend, Cole Hobbs, will be in kindergarten at the same school. Macee has already been to the playground at Red Hill with Hobbs.

“I really liked all the climbing,” she says.

Macee has been told by her parents that she will make new friends and learn to read in kindergarten. She has no fears about this next chapter in her life. She also has another goal that she’s sure to meet: “I want to write like mom.”

Vail, Colorado

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