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In quiet classrooms, teachers prepare for students

August 23, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Students were not laughing, yelling or talking in the halls and classrooms of Washington County schools Monday, but their teachers were in the buildings preparing for the first day of classes.

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Students don't return until Aug. 30, but educators use the stillness before the storm to plan and prepare. They set up their classrooms and work on their lesson plans.

"This is our first official day, but many of us have been in, off and on, all summer," said Ann Marie Roulette, a third-grade teacher at Emma K. Doub Elementary School.

A teacher for 23 years, Roulette sat writing Monday afternoon in her quiet, clean and ordered classroom. The posters were up and bulletin boards were covered with colorful cut-out displays. Upturned chairs covered tables.

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"The room set-up is just one piece of it. Then you have to get down to what you are going to be doing," Roulette said. At the end of each year, teachers strip their rooms and take materials home.

Some teach during summer in other settings. In August, they move in again, often bringing new decorations. The classroom needs to have a welcoming look, Roulette said.

"I don't want to have things that are faded," she said. "I don't want the kids to come in and think I've been here 22 years just by looking around."

Each teacher is responsible for creating lesson plans based on core curriculum.

Elizabeth Harp and Kathy Dell concentrated Monday on planning their first week. The fifth-grade teachers are both new hires. Together, they will work on classes as a team, just as other teachers of the same subject or grade form teams.

Dell moved from Kokomo, Ind. "I've been setting up a house and a classroom," she said. The week before students return is especially useful for a newcomer starting from scratch, she said.

Harp, who graduated from Towson State University in May, said she's excited.

"I think it's going to fall into place. As much as I plan, there's going to be something else I wanted to do. I'm just going to roll with the punches and try to have a good year," she said.

Washington County Schools have about 1,432 teachers, according to Human Resources Director Phil Ray. They began the week with principals' pep talks and staff meetings, getting schedules, room assignments and lists of students.

Today they attend a convocation at North Hagerstown High School with an orientation to the school system and its various representatives. Training exercises and seminars follow this afternoon and Wednesday.

"The beginning of the year, I think, is an energizing time," said Roulette. The school is fresh and the kids are eager. "It's a clean slate."

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