School bells poised to ring

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DRC
Al Key
7-year-old Jenna Osborne is greeted by her teacher, Julie Wenger, at Pecan Creek Elementary School during Meet the Teacher Night on Thursday.

The start of a new school year is going to be emotional for Brandon Laughlin.

On Monday, he and his wife, Suzy, are sending off their only child, 5-year-old Emmah, for her first day of kindergarten at Pecan Creek Elementary School.

“[Emmah] is incredibly excited, and we’re happy for that. I’m excited for her, a little shocked by the whole change that’s taking place, but we’re very excited,” Laughlin said.

A few days ago, he said, the family did a dry run getting Emmah up and dressed and driving by the school, and she’s ready. Laughlin said he’s hopeful his daughter will make friends and enjoy and get used to the school experience.

But he and his wife are prepared for the possibility of wiping each other’s tears after dropping her off.

“It’s the beginning of a whole new life,” said Suzy Laughlin, who’s stayed home to care for their daughter the last five years.

“My playmate is leaving me,” she said. “I think she’s going to be OK. I’m not so sure about me.”

Emmah visited her new kindergarten classroom Thursday. When asked what she thought of the room and her new teacher, she exclaimed, “I love it!” She said she couldn’t wait to return and play with one of the stuffed toys she spotted on her visit.

Emmah will join more than 26,000 students expected to start a new school year with Denton schools Monday, according to district officials.

Classes kick off with elementary campuses at 7:50 a.m., followed by middle schools at 8:20 a.m. and high school at 8:50 a.m. Buses, which will transport about 8,000 students, will begin rolling out of bus barns at 5:45 a.m.

“We’re just excited,” said Sharon Cox, district spokeswoman. “The first day of school always brings enthusiasm and excitement for the students and the staff. We are looking forward to working with our Denton ISD families and students so every student has a safe and healthy school year.”

Cox said the district is encouraging every student get a good night’s rest and start the day with a healthy breakfast. Parents should become engaged in their child’s learning process by becoming involved in school events and volunteering.

This past week, Denton ISD conducted Meet the Teacher Night at its 21 elementary schools, where families could drop off supplies and meet staff.

The hallways at Pecan Creek Elementary School were bustling with families Thursday. Little voices echoed through the halls as school doors opened and families entered with bags and boxes of school supplies in tow.

“It’s alive again,” Principal Emily McLarty said. “We work all summer to prepare ourselves, our minds and learn new techniques, and now that the children are back, we get a chance to put those ideas into practice.”

McLarty calls the start of a new school year her favorite time of year.

“It’s the most hopeful time of the year. Everything is possible, every child is going to learn and every teacher is going to have the best year of their career,” she said.

Families at Pecan Creek on Thursday stocked school supplies — pencils, scissors, glue, markers, folders, notebooks, tissues, manila paper — along the walls in the school hallways. Smiling teachers stood at their doors, and school staff members were on post in hallways to greet families.

In the kindergarten and first-grade hall, kindergarten families received their first homework assignment. They were asked to take home a white poster board and decorate it with family photos and pictures of their child’s favorite things. The poster will be placed in each kindergartner’s cubby locker for them to view when feeling sad and for future writing exercises.

Meet the Teacher Night allowed James Vincent’s daughter, Shira-Sion, a kindergartner, to experience the school atmosphere prior to the first day of classes, he said. It will allow her to start the school year not feeling “like a fish out of water.”

When asked the first thing she wanted to do on her first day, Shira-Sion said, “Math.”

On Aug. 14, the district welcomed 377 new employees to its 3,600-member staff with a new employees luncheon conducted by the Denton Chamber of Commerce and Adopt-a-School Partners in Education. Vendors and representatives from area businesses, service organizations, hospitals, the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University and local teacher associations met with the new employees at tables throughout the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex. The new employees’ names were also drawn for gift cards.

Excited and anxious about the new school year, first-year art teacher Yandi Tenorio said she was looking forward to meeting her students. She has a goal for her students at McMath Middle School to be productive.

“It’s not just about producing art, but building their character. I’m looking forward to seeing how they change, not only in their art skills but their character as well,” Tenorio said. “The theme in my room is ‘You’re worth more than gold,’ so I’m painting my room gold to let them know that I want them to shine.”

Jeneane Noble is a new teacher at Bettye Myers Middle School in Shady Shores, which opens its doors for the first time Monday. The seventh-grade math teacher, who moved to Denton from the Big Spring district in West Texas, said she’s excited about starting at a new campus where this year sets the tone and atmosphere.

Noble said she hopes students leave her classroom at the end of the year more knowledgeable about the content area she teaches and how to be successful in life. She said she wants them to feel safe and have a positive school year, a positive environment.

“I’m ready to get going, ready to get busy,” Noble said.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.

NEW YEAR STARTS

The following districts and schools begin classes this week.

Monday: Denton ISD, Argyle ISD, Aubrey ISD, Krum ISD, Lake Dallas ISD, Lewisville ISD, Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Little Elm ISD, Ponder ISD and Pilot Point ISD

Tuesday: Northwest ISD, Sanger ISD, Texas Education Centers (Aubrey, Denton, Little Elm and Lewisville campuses) and Winfree Academy Charter School in Denton


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