by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Presumably much like her students, Central Elementary School first-grade teacher Jennifer Corlett had some excitement built up on the first day of school on Tuesday.
The veteran teacher, with eight years of experience at Central, admitted she was nervous before greeting students for the first time.
“I have serious first grade jitters,” she said. “I usually don’t sleep the night before and I was in a lot of the weekend preparing, even though I was ready.”
Corlett’s experience and effort showed though and she met her students out on the busy playground where parents were dropping their kids off, first checking to make sure she had their names down and then headed in to the school.
Lined up fairly straight, students headed to their classroom at the end of the hall, #216, where Corlett started going over the basics of lockers and snacks and making sure they had their Bring Everything Everyday (BEE) Book and confirming their lunch choices. A change from three in past years, students had four choices on Tuesday – pizza bake, chicken nuggets, veggie sandwich and chicken caesar salad.
“You guys are such great listeners,” Corlett remarked to the students.
Students were also introduced to the new school principal, Michael Daugs, who welcomed everyone over the announcements at 8:15 a.m. giving a quick update on the weather and leading them in the Pledge of Allegiance.
In addition to establishing a routine, the first-graders took part in getting-to-know-you activities, essential as they were in four different kindergarten classes last year and moved into four different first grade classes.
“They were in different classes last year so some people know each other and some people don’t,” said Corlett. “We have some new students. It’s a lot of acclimating and getting into the routine of school.”
Soon students were called to the pink carpet at the front of the room and, after pushing in their chairs, quickly and quietly, settled in.
“Find a spot where you’re going to be a good listener,” said Corlett.
Corlett then played a book on tape. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean, about a cat enjoying a day at school in his new shoes.
The activity led to a series of clues left by “Pete the Cat,” which started in their classroom and led students around the school, further acclimating them to the day.
“You always want to give the kids everything they need,” said Corlett, “and make sure they’re in a safe environment, and make sure that they’re having fun and that they’re happy and that they go home everyday and have something new that they learned.”
Corlett is the wife of Superintendent Brian Corlett and their son Logan, 13, started eighth grade.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at email@example.com.