The anxiousness young children get about the first day of school is no different from what some Denton teachers are experiencing.
“I’m nervous and excited all at once,” said Alicia Roberson, a first-year kindergarten teacher at Rivera Elementary School. “It’s exciting. … It’s always been a dream to teach, but [I’m] nervous as well because you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want my kids to like me, I want to make sure I teach them.’ So it’s just a lot of information that I’m trying to absorb, but it’s a really exciting time.”
On Monday, Denton ISD will start a new school year and welcome about 27,000 students through the doors of more than 30 schools.
With the exception of Northwest ISD, which starts school Tuesday, all other Denton County public schools will also start classes Monday.
For the last few weeks, teachers have been preparing for the arrival of students.
Roberson walked into her room for the first time earlier this summer, and the space was bare, like a blank canvas. She thought about what she wanted to do to make it friendly, a place her students would want to come and learn.
Her fellow teachers stepped in, donating their extra classroom decorations and helping transform her room into a warm space with bright colors and appealing bulletin boards.
“I wanted it to look decent,” Roberson said. “I wanted to make sure that it looked friendly for the kids and that they had something when they came in, something to engage them.
“I’m just really excited.”
For 20-year veteran teachers like Aida Urquidez, a bilingual and reading recovery teacher at Rivera Elementary, starting a new school year never gets old.
When Rivera first opened 20 years ago, Urquidez was starting her education career and said she felt welcome.
“I liked the blues, the colors and the floors shined so beautiful,” she recalled. “It was just really neat. It was kind of a new, scary thing for me, but everybody helped me.”
Two decades later, the support is still coming and the first day still brings excitement, she said.
“I think it’s very exciting to come and see all the kids and all the parents coming in,” Urquidez said.
The first day of school is one an educator never forgets, said Roshaunda Thomas, Rivera’s principal.
“It’s just the newness of it all,” she said. “I can’t wait for the kids to come.”
For parents such as Michele Martin, back-to-school time can be hectic. There are meetings for various organizations and booster clubs, she said.
“Throw the expense of school on top of the time constraints and a parent feels like they are under siege,” Martin said in an email.
However, Martin, who serves as Denton Community Councils of PTAs president, said she’s glad to see her children return to school.
“It’s always a little rough the first week or two as the kids (and I) get into our schedules, but I love that they get back into a schedule,” she wrote. “Every parent I know is excited about the school year starting. Those who have students going into the first year of a new level … are more emotional. It’s a huge step for your child, especially the oldest.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @Britney Tabor.
FIVE HEALTHY BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIPS
Dr. Amy Burton, a pediatric endocrinologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton, offers five tips for keeping children healthy as they return to school:
Don’t skip breakfast. With early mornings and the rush to get to school, breakfast often gets overlooked. However, kids who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and perform better academically. When in a rush, try making a smoothie with Greek yogurt and frozen fruits so kids can drink it on the way out the door. Or, try a whole-wheat waffle with one tablespoon of peanut butter and bananas.
Pack a lunch. By packing a lunch, you can offer a variety of healthy and nutritious foods. Consider options other than sandwiches — hummus and vegetables on a bagel thin, turkey and cheese roll-ups with a yogurt tube, or whole-wheat crackers with almond butter. Skip the bag of chips and juice — try a bag of grapes, mandarin oranges and flavored water.
Can’t pack a lunch? Try to limit chocolate milk (even if low-fat) to once a week only. Look at the school lunch menu ahead of time, and discuss the options with your child.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Most kids are very hungry after school. Curb overeating by including protein in snacks. For example, peanut butter and apple slices, a Greek yogurt tube with snack-size popcorn, or a cheese stick with grapes.
Encourage activity after school. Screen time (TV, computers, phones, tablets) should be limited to less than two hours per day. After homework, encourage at least 30 minutes of activity before children can use a device.
SOURCE: Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton