In just a couple of hours Wednesday morning, kindergarten teacher Lisa Thias already had memorized most of the names of the students in her class at Seymour-Redding Elementary School.
Quite a feat for any teacher on the first day of school, but especially impressive because Thias has nearly 30 students.
Seymour Community School Corp. welcomed all students back Wednesday. Staff at each of the buildings stood outside the front doors and ushered students inside with high-fives, hugs, encouraging pats on the back and warm greetings.
Shayli Bishop, 5, said she was excited and maybe just a little nervous about starting kindergarten.
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“I wanted to ride a bus,” she said. “And it will be fun to play outside and make new friends.”
As for learning, Bishop said that was already happening.
“Because that’s what you’re supposed to do in kindergarten,” she said.
Teachers at Seymour High School also were ready to start the new school year Wednesday.
Assistant Principal Talmadge Reasoner said teachers and staff have worked hard over the past couple of days and in some cases all summer to prepare.
“We met for professional courses and training, and they worked hard, even over the summer, to get ready,” he said. “They’re (the students) coming whether we’re ready or not.”
Reasoner said a total of 1,524 student schedules were printed out, but he didn’t know early Wednesday morning exactly how many students would show up on the first day.
Enrollment goes up and down throughout the school year, but especially in the first month, he said.
New Redding Principal Steve Bush said the 2017-18 school year got off without a hitch, and he’s excited for all of the learning that will take place this year.
Redding has adopted the theme “HATS Off to Learning,” and each grading period will focus on improving habits, attitudes, talents and skills, he said.
Also, by incorporating the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” in the classroom, Bush said the school is working to build leadership skills in both teachers and students.
But on the first day, it’s all about getting back into school routines or learning them for the first time. It’s also when teachers establish rules, procedures and expectations for students.
“It’s a little like herding kittens,” Thias said of trying to get 30 5-year-olds to follow directions.
“The sooner we get everyone on the same page, the better it is for our teachers, staff, the students and parents,” Bush said. “But I think we are off to a great start.”
Bush said Redding’s enrollment is about the same as last year at 558 students. That number will change, however, over the next month as more students move into the school district and others move out.
Although somewhat crowded with having so many students in one classroom, Thias said she was happy to see all of “their little, smiling faces.”
For some students, the smiles didn’t happen right away as they realized their moms and dads weren’t going to be able to stay.
Allisynn Miller, 5, wasn’t happy to learn she would have to wait to eat lunch and couldn’t go outside right away to play. That led to a few tears of frustration.
“I miss my mom,” she said.
But her tears quickly dried as Thias read the book “The Night Before Kindergarten” to the class.
Even though she has been teaching for more than 20 years, Thias said she still gets nervous and excited about the first day of school, too.
“The night before kindergarten is kind of like the night before Christmas,” she said. “How many of you were too excited to sleep last night?”
Many of the students raised their hands.
“Me, too,” she said.