Local News

Teachers welcome students to their classrooms

SEBRING - Teachers welcomed students and parents this week during back to school orientations in preparation for the first day of school on Monday. Especially at the elementary level, teachers tried to make their students feel at ease in their new classroom. Woodlawn Elementary first-grade teacher Amanada Tindell decorated her classroom in a Dr. Seuss theme, which by coincidence turned out to be good start in getting to know one of her students, Perry Weaver, at Thursday evening's back to school orientation. "Do you like Dr. Seuss?" Tindell asked.
Perry's mother, Erica, responded, that her son and the children's book author share the same birthday (March 2). Erica has two other children who will be attending Woodlawn Elementary - Sylvia will be in fifth-grade and Madelyn in third-grade. Sylvia said math was the toughest part of fourth-grade. "I am not very good at math," she said. Erica commented, "But she did pretty good on her FCAT though." Sylvia said she helped her brother get ready for first-grade. "I kind of prepared him for the energy about it, cause this is his first time in elementary school and he's really excited," she said. That exciting feeling includes the principal and teachers, "I am very excited about the year," said Principal Melissa Blackman, who was the school's assistant principal last year. "The teachers have been on campus working hard. We've got a lot of great things planned for the kids. It will be a great year." Tindell, a recent Warner University graduate, said she does everything in her classroom with Dr. Seuss materials. "He has so many reading materials that we can relate to," she said. "We are starting 'Leader in Me' and he has so many books that go along with the positive behavior so I thought that was a great way to implement and teach the students about the Seven Habits," of Highly Effective People. Dr. Seuss was her favorite as a kid, so she is excited about it, Tindell said. Third-grade teacher Elizabeth Ep is also a recent Warner University graduate. The new teacher's classroom seems a bit bare compared to other classrooms that have many posters, charts, vocabulary words and behavior reminders adorning every wall. Ep said, "I am sure by the end of this year it is going to be completely full and I think it will be an awesome thing for us together as a class to see all the things that we have done together and all that we have learned. So I try to keep it bare for now and we will build it together." Ep's classroom features a superhero theme while fellow third-grade teacher Lisa Diez's class features monkeys galore. Diez, who relocated from Broward County after 18 years of teaching, said she feels "rejuvenated" in the Highlands County School District. From the superintendent to the teachers, she has felt very welcomed, Diez said. "It's so different," she said. "I'm blessed to be here. Diez currently has 17 students. Before the state Class Size Amendment of 2002 some teachers had many more students in their classrooms. "When I first started teaching I actually had 34 in a classroom," Diez noted. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826