Students, teachers welcome a new school year

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Buses hit the streets and schools opened their doors Monday morning to welcome students across Rowan County and in Kannapolis

“Things flowed very well today,” said Rowan-Salisbury School System Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody. “We feel really positive about where we’re going and what we’re doing well.”

She added that there was a lot of excitement across the district as students returned to school. Moody started out the morning at Landis Elementary School, welcoming students as they arrived at school and visiting classrooms.

“My biggest joy is always to see kindergarteners on the first day,” she said.

In Jessica Utley’s kindergarten classroom at Landis Elementary, the students – mostly – had smiles on their faces.

One of her students, Carlos Velo, happily chatted as he drew pictures and colored early Monday.

He said he was excited about kindergarten because they get to “do science.”

Velo excitedly shared his teacher’s name and talked about the picture he was drawing. He explained that he was drawing a picture of himself at school and pointed out that he made sure to draw a brain in his head.

“He just opened that door and was grinning ear to ear,” Utley said.

Classmate Linzie Brooks was also happily drawing pictures Monday morning.

“I’m trying to draw a lunchbox,” she said, adding that she’s excited about kindergarten because her class is “going to do fun stuff.”

“It’s going to be fun,” said Madison Fontaine through gulps of applesauce.

Utley said her favorite part of the first day of school is “just seeing their smiles come in for the first time.”

“It melts your heart,” she said.

Utley said she didn’t sleep Sunday night because she was afraid she’d forgotten something.

The second-year teacher said she has “a lot of new ideas for reading.”

She hopes those new ideas will “help them (her students) achieve,” she said.

But success in kindergarten isn’t just about learning the ABCs, Utley started from ground zero Monday morning as she went over kindergarten basics like walking in line and how voices in the hallway must be at a “level zero.”

Elsewhere on the kindergarten hall, other teachers taught their students to sit “crisscross applesauce” and the right procedures for using the bathroom and washing their hands.

“The first day of school was fantastic,” said South Rowan High School Principal Kelly Withers, adding that 85 percent of the students’ laptops have already been deployed.

That’s exciting because it means “our instruction can get started,” she said.

Southeast Middle School Principal Julia Lentz described the first day of school as “amazing.”

“Our teachers have been so organized – so prepared,” she said. “The teamwork was obvious.”

“Everything fell right into place,” Lentz added.

Lentz said that her staff’s goal this year is to focus on building relationships with the students.

“But the biggest thing in place is the climate and the culture piece,” she said.

They’re doing that by establishing “family circle time,” where students begin and end their days with the same group of teachers and students

Lentz said that “when you get the culture right,” increased scores and productivity fall into place.