Excited kids and anxious parents filled several Chautauqua County schools on Tuesday morning.
Back-to-school fever reached its boiling point as parents dropped off their children, some of them for the very first time.
At Lincoln Elementary, students began arriving around 8:20 a.m., but for the school's faculty and teachers the day was already well under way. Several children arrived early to participate in the school breakfast program. Simultaneously, the administration office was flooded with first-time students looking for their classroom assignments. Every room lining the main hallway was a flurry of activity as teachers made sure everything was prepared for their students to enter.
Pictured at top left, Jacob is preoccupied during a photo op. Pictured at top right, Jolinn Griffins first day of kindergarden at Falconer Central School. Pictured above, parents sign their children in on the first day of school Tuesday. Pictured at right, Razel writes his name on the sign-in sheet.
P-J photos by
Sandi Olson's kindergarten class entered amid much fanfare. Enthusiastic parents documented the entire process from sign-in to seat assignment while Olson reassured worried parents that their child would have an excellent first year. To occupy the new students, small containers of multi-colored Play-Doh were at each placemat. When the last parent reluctantly parted with their child, Olson quickly proceeded to reinstate order and establish her authority in the classroom.
"We are the bosses of kindergarten," she told the class, gesturing to herself and her assistant.
Olson has been teaching in Jamestown for 37 years, so she knows her way around the classroom. A veteran of the education profession, her teaching career was born of a love for children.
"I love watching the changes and growth that take place each day," she said.
In fact, she wished for more time in the day, but was excited at the prospect of a new year with new students. She said that students are most prepared for kindergarten when they have had a year or two of preschool.
"Pre-K is very important with the changing expectations for kindergarten," she explained. "Pre-K offers background information as well as experience with schedules and routines."
The new year inevitably brings challenges for all teachers, both veteran and brand-new. Jennifer Cronin, a first-year fifth and sixth grade reading specialist, was glad to be beginning her career in teaching at Washington Middle School.
"I am really excited just to meet my students," she said, "and I'm thrilled to be in Jamestown, because I'm a Jamestown graduate. So it's nice to come back to my roots and be able to teach with people that taught me."
Cronin attended Persell Middle School and went on to graduate from Jamestown High School in 2005. She completed her undergraduate studies at the State University at Brockport and obtained her master's degree at the State University at Fredonia. She is teaching intensive reading instruction, and will be helping students as needed while also teaching reading skills classes.
"Since I'm a reading teacher, I'm anxious to learn what they like to read and how I can bring that into the classroom," she explained. "Because everyone likes different things, I want to try to fit their individual personalities into planning my lessons so that they are motivated to read."
Cronin expressed the importance of reading, as it is the foundation of every subject. She remembered the love for learning her teachers instilled in her, and hopes to continue to do the same for her students. She returned to Jamestown to teach because of this relationship, and described the district as "close-knit."
"The teachers that I had in this district had a really positive effect on me," she said.
The new school year always brings different ups and downs, many of which are impossible to predict, and teachers will always rise to the occasion.
"As a new teacher, I'm sure there is something that I haven't encountered before," said Cronin. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."