Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Unified School District 207 officially began the schoolyear Sept. 8 with both in-person and remote learning options.
So that parents and students could gain perspective on what the schoolyear would look like before the year officially started, each of the four schools — Bradley Elementary School, Eisenhower Elementary School, MacArthur Elementary School and Patton Junior High School — hosted a “meet the teacher” event Sept. 1-3.
“I think a lot of the kids are nervous to come back to school after being home for so long, and so I think (the event) just helped ease their mind that everything’s going to be OK and, even though things are different, we’re going to try and make it as normal as possible,” said Ally Jackson, Bradley fourth-grade teacher. “I’ve always thought that the most important thing is building relationships, and I think since the social distancing comes with small class sizes, I think we can build better relationships than ever.”
Mindy Masters, Eisenhower pre-kindergarten teacher, said the event is imperative for newcomers.
“The first day of school is always a little bit scary, and so to come in without seeing the building at all or seeing your teacher would cause a lot of anxiety, and, hopefully, we were able to alleviate at least part of that,” Masters said.
Tammy Irminger, MacArthur fourth-grade teacher, said being back in school is where teachers and students belong.
“This is where we do our best work,” Irminger said. “We’re always going to keep the safety and health precautions in the forefront, but I think that understanding that kids need that interaction with their peers is important.
“They learn well with their peers. Creating environments that are six feet apart but still providing opportunities for them to interact with each other, hear each other’s ideas, bounce ideas off each other, learn from each other is important,” she said. “We’re going to have to get creative, obviously, but there’s still ways to get it done.”
The event allowed parents and students to meet teachers, see the classroom setup and ask questions. Several parents agreed that being able to come in before school starts put their minds at ease.
“It’s important because a lot of the parents don’t know what it’s going to look like when they come in. I was talking to a neighbor, and he said it was so great to go in and see how the classrooms were set up and how the teachers were going to handle the everyday,” said Stephanie Schmidt, mother of William, Bradley sixth-grader; Dexter, Bradley fourth-grader; and Evee, Bradley second-grader. “There were only between nine and 12 kids in most of his kids’ classrooms, and he said that was great because now the kids are probably going to get more one-on-one, and it’s going to be a better experience for them in general.”
Lynn Godfrin, mother of Alyssa, Eisenhower third-grader, and Luke, Eisenhower first-grader, said she was happy her children were back in a brick-and-mortar building.
“My kids, they need the routine, and they need the social emotional stability of the school and friends,” Godfrin said. “I have no concerns about COVID-19. They’re doing a really good job here.”
Chantel McLemore, mother of Jayden Ricks, MacArthur fourth-grader, said it’ll help her more effectively support Jayden through the schoolyear.
“Now I know what he’s going through. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I can mentor him and talk him through how to be safe, what to do, what not to do, whatever he needs because I’ve actually visualized and seen it in person,” McLemore said. “I think (the event) also opened up a lot of eyes for the community to how much the teachers actually do for the kids. I think this has been a really good change for the positive mindset to really appreciate those things that they do.”