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Washington County teachers go back to school

August 15, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- With five days left until the first day of school for Washington County Public Schools students, teachers are busy preparing their classrooms and planning lessons.

"I have to go through and sort all of these books," said Libby Baumgardner, a second-grade teacher at Emma K. Doub Elementary School.

The books will be placed into small crates on shelves for her students, said Baumgardner, 27.

Like many other local school teachers, she has spent at least one day over the summer in her classroom. However, Thursday was the first day back to school for all Washington County Public Schools teachers for the 2008-09 school year. Students return Wednesday.

There are nearly 1,600 classroom teachers employed by the school system.

When teachers leave at the end of the school year, everything has to be removed from the walls and often packed into boxes, said Lindsay Norris, a second-grade teacher at Bester Elementary School. That makes the days before school begins for students busy for teachers who have to decorate, unpack and get organized, she said.

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"It's definitely a lot of work to get set up," Norris said.

Many teachers at Emma K. Doub, including Baumgardner, will be changing classrooms this year, adding to the number of boxes to unpack. The school added first- and second-graders this school year, and because of that change, there were only a few teachers who did not move to a new classroom, she said.

On Thursday, Baumgardner said she was hoping to finish her bulletin boards and "get the room ready." That included setting up the classroom reading area with a pale pink chair and a multicolored rug.

Anne Milton is in her 11th year of teaching, but said she will be teaching first grade at Emma K. Doub for the first time.

On Thursday, she was focused on setting up her computer and finishing organizing the classroom.

Milton said she had been in her classroom four different times since July getting ready for the school year to begin. That included making her classroom colorful and "inviting" for her 20 students.

"This year, I want it to be bright," she said. "I want to utilize the space ... make it kid-friendly."

On Thursday, Milton was starting to tackle a "huge list," including setting up learning centers, addressing postcards to her students welcoming them to first grade and finishing her bulletin boards. She said she also will work on her lesson plans for at least the first week of school.

Norris taught summer school in her classroom, and said that helped her prepare for the first day of school.

"And my husband took off work yesterday to help me hang bulletin boards," she said.

Norris taught third grade at the school last year, and said she will be using the time until her 17 students arrive to go over curriculum and plan her lessons. Her room is nearly set up, and Norris said she tries to be extremely organized.

"I want to be 100 percent organized so the kids are organized," she said. "They know there's a place for every single item. It helps them adjust to the room."

While school doesn't begin until Wednesday, Norris said she wants to be done decorating and organizing her classroom by Bester's back-to-school night on Monday.

"I want it to be set up for the parents ... so they can see what it will look like," she said. "It's exciting. It's always exciting just to meet the students."

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