Hard to believe that summer vacation is now just a pleasant memory and we are already in our third week of school. I should add the third loooong week of school. We eased into the year with two four-day weeks. Normally I complain about four-day weeks. Yes, I can hear your gasps. The reason I really don’t like four-day weeks is that most of the programs I teach are built around the traditional five-day week, and it takes some fancy footwork to work everything in. However after this week, I certainly see the wisdom in easing into the school year. It’s a toss-up, who’s more exhausted, my first graders or me. I have nine first graders and seven second graders, which is a very nice size for a combined class.
This year we welcomed several new members to our school family. Miss Ashley Borchers is our new kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Nancy Nottingham is teaching keyboarding to the kindergarten through fourth grades. Tim Nealeigh is teaching music to the fourth through eighth graders, and will be getting them ready for the spring musical.
September 8 is the date that the Catholic Church celebrates the birth of the Virgin Mary. Since she is the patroness of our school, it was very fitting that we celebrated her birthday. Students and staff attended Mass in the morning and after Mass were treated to birthday cake and beverages. I noticed that there were four candles on the cake. I figured each candle represented five hundred years, give or take.
On September 11 the students and staff gathered around the flagpole for a short prayer service remembering those who perished during the attacks on September 11, 2001. We prayed for all those affected by this terrible tragedy. For many of the staff, the memory of that day is very fresh. Our principal noted however that none of our present students had been born at the time. Even though many years have passed, the need to pray for peace hasn’t.
The eighth graders went to Fort Campbell Gard later that day for the rope course. By helping one another through the course, the students build community. Also completion of the course builds confidence.
St. Mary’s had a float in the annual Greenville Homecoming Parade. Students, dressed in retro clothing from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, rode the float to show their support for the Green Wave. Reading what I just wrote, I realize how old I am. I wore clothes from all those decades…during those decades. (Sigh!)
I have heard from a reliable source that pirates are once again going to swarm through the halls of St. Mary’s School. I am writing this column on September 14, so by the time you read this, the pirates may have already come. Every year on or around “Talk Like a Pirate” Day, which is September 19, my sweet, adorable first and second graders are replaced by a motley crew of scurvy pirates. They spend the majority of the day, scowling and saying things like “Aaaar!” and “Avast ye landlubbers!” In the afternoon they wreak havoc throughout the school searching for pirate treasure. (OK, it’s a controlled wreaking of havoc.) The second grade pirates work out the clues left by some other pirates. Oddly enough to break the code, one needs to know a bit about addition and subtraction. After the clues are decoded, the first graders lead the scurvy lot using their knowledge of ordinal positions, and left and right to track down the treasure.
We have a new electronic grading system this year. I have been rather proud of myself. After taking a good thirty minutes to enter five minutes of grading the first week of school, I think I finally have the hang of it. The company offers many online workshops to help teachers navigate the site. Of course, I prefer using my own tried and true system, the “by guess and by golly!” system. Like all things technological, I have a love-hate relationship with it. I like the fact that when I enter assignments, they are automatically sent to the parents’ email, so they know all about the homework. It is nice having a running grade average for each child in each subject. Although some days I really long for my little green gradebook. It never crashed and I was always able to open it. I thought that as well as I was doing with the new gradebook, that my computer and I had finally achieved concord. Not so. Today my document camera was doing undocumented things and my SmartBoard was not being smart. Looks like it’s going to be business as usual this year!
Until next month, may your electronic devises treat you kindly.
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.