Teachers return to class ahead of first day of school

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 8/3/22

FLEMING ISLAND – Unpacking boxes, arranging furniture and hanging items on walls is a part of teacher’s summer.

A week before school starts, the parking lot at Fleming Island Elementary is …

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Teachers return to class ahead of first day of school

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Unpacking boxes, arranging furniture and hanging items on walls is a part of teacher’s summer.

A week before school starts, the parking lot at Fleming Island Elementary is full.

Teachers have been back in school preparing for the 2022-2023 school year. Teachers Kristin Geiger and Sarah Vanley walk with Principal Jennifer Collins, passing support staff who are moving heavy items and teachers planning their rooms.

Last Tuesday was the first day of school for teachers. Students arrive Aug. 10 and teachers are more than aware. The school launched “Stingray Connected” which involves parents, student with social media. Collins said the initiative exists for all the players to be successful.

“I’m just excited and ready for a great year,” Geiger said.

Fleming Island has achieved an A grade every year since 1999, according to state records. It even secured an A grade in the optional COVID stricken 2021 grading year.

Geiger spent several days painting her classroom. Vanley labored over lists and calendars. It appeared several first-day decorations were up.

Collins said teachers are so eager, that they ask for keys early in the summer. They want a comfortable space for their children, she said, and the time to prepare it.

“They put in a countless number of hours during the summer,” Collins said.

“For the last couple of years, due to COVID we haven’t been able to have as many people in the school or have as much parental involvement. So, we really got into that last year … What this year is about is making connections,” Collins said.

Geiger, a fourth-grade teacher with 19 years at the Clay, said things seem like they’re getting back to normal. Fourth graders are a fun age, she added.

“They’re becoming really independent, but they’re still little kids,” Geiger said.

Both said they worked hard to get to Fleming Island Elementary. Geiger said she grew up playing school as a game and stuck with it, knowing she wanted to do it.

“I got a whiteboard for Christmas. I got markers,” Geiger said. “I always did that. There wasn’t one moment.”

Vanley, in her seventh year, teaches kindergarten and said children get to experience social activity again. The growth of students is important to her. Fewer pandemic restrictions allow students to work with partners and develop social skills, she said.

“It’s about thinking with the end in mind, ‘Where do we want to get these kids?’” Vanley said. “Seeing them make those gains and have that growth is the best part of teaching, really.”

Vanley dreamt of being a teacher at a young age and she volunteered at a school during high school. Her affinity with the profession led her to eventually change her major.

“I guess it’s what I’m meant to do, I changed my major and started teaching right away,” Vanley said. “It was my calling.”

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