First day of school for Charles County Public School stu­dents

New prin­ci­pal, stu­dents set­tle in at Berry Ele­men­tary

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Tues­day was the first day of school for over 26,000 Charles County Public Schools stu­dents. Across the county, hun­dreds of teach­ers wel­comed new stu­dents to their class­room.

School sys­tem spokes­woman Katie O’Mal­ley-Simp­son said that as of Fri­day, en­roll­ment was 26,037.

The school sys­tem still has 21 teacher po­si­tions open. Long-term sub­sti­tute teach­ers will fill those po­si­tions as the school sys­tem con­tin­ues to hire per­ma­nent teach­ers for the school year, O’Mal­ley-Simp­son said.

The num­ber is slightly less than the 25 po­si­tions open at the start of last school year.

The first day was a very busy one for the staff at Berry Ele­men­tary School in Wal­dorf, in­clud­ing its new prin­ci­pal, San­dra Tay­lor.

“It’s go­ing to be a great year; I’m very ex­cited,” Tay­lor said just be­fore the start of school Mon­day. “The staff is very ex­cited. The stu­dents … most times are ex­cited to be com­ing to school, so just to keep that in­ten­sity and ex­cite­ment through­out the en­tire year is one of my goals.”

Tay­lor was ap­pointed prin­ci­pal of Berry Ele­men­tary

School ef­fec­tive July 1. Prior to that, she served as prin­ci­pal of Wil­liam A. Diggs Ele­men­tary School.

Tay­lor said her tran­si­tion to the new school has been rel­a­tively smooth.

“Try­ing to pack up 10 years worth of things, that was prob­a­bly the hard­est thing, the pack­ing. As far as ac­cli­mat­ing with the school, that’s been very, very smooth.”

Tay­lor said she has been work­ing to get to know the com­mu­nity served by Berry. Berry is the largest ele­men­tary school in the county, over 800 stu­dents, all of whom qual­ify for bus trans­porta­tion. The school held a meet-and-greet with the new prin­ci­pal Aug. 24.

She said she has also been get­ting to know the new mem­bers of her school com­mu­nity.

“I met with a lot of the stake­hold­ers, the PTO pres­i­dent, my fi­nan­cial sec­re­tary, the build­ing ser­vice staff, oth­ers, to try to get the lay of the land,” Tay­lor said.

She has also in­sti­tuted new ar­rival pro­ce­dures, which she said she hopes will help smooth over the process of get­ting stu­dents to and from school.

“I feel that in deal­ing with large num­bers, hav­ing more en­tries into the build­ing makes things smoother, rather than all com­ing in through one door,” Tay­lor said.

The first-day fo­cus Tay­lor said, is on mak­ing sure that all stu­dents get home safely.

“What hap­pens is, the par­ents are ex­cited, and they will bring their kids to school, be­cause they want to get those first day of school pic­tures, videos, things of that na­ture … and then they’ll want them to go home us­ing their reg­u­lar mode of trans­porta­tion. It does cause a safety con­cern be­cause those stu­dents may not be fa­mil­iar with their bus, their bus driver, or their bus stop, es­pe­cially our kinder­gart­ners and first graders,” Tay­lor said. “So we’re go­ing to spend the en­tire day mak­ing sure ev­ery­one knows how they’re get­ting home.”

Tay­lor said the theme of school for the new year is that this is go­ing to be a “mag­i­cal year”.

“I chose that be­cause, with hav­ing new staff and new lead­er­ship, there are go­ing to be changes, but changes can be good, and these changes will be good,” Tay­lor said.

Out­side the school, par­ents and stu­dents milled about wait­ing for the bell to ring, snap­ping photos or straight­en­ing cloth­ing and back­packs.

Ce­lena Klas­ing ac­com­pa­nied both her daugh­ters, sec­ond grader San­tana Klas­ing and kinder­gart­ner Jor­dan Klas­ing, on their first day at Berry, the fam­ily hav­ing re­cently moved to Wal­dorf from North Carolina, Klas­ing said.

“I’m very ex­cited, to get them out of my face,” Klas­ing said laugh­ing. “It’s been a long sum­mer.”

San­tana said she was look­ing for­ward to her new school, and that she was par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to read­ing in school, her fa­vorite books be­ing Dr. Seuss. “I feel pretty good,” San­tana said about her first day.

Janet John­son be­gan her day by drop­ping her son off at Mat­ta­woman Mid­dle School be­fore bring­ing her daugh­ter to ad­ja­cent Berry, which she said was very con­ve­nient.

“At the end of the day, I pick him up, then come over here and pick her up,” John­son said.

Ka­t­rina Robin­son was wait­ing with her daugh­ter Ad­di­son for the bell to ring.

“I’m a lit­tle ner­vous, but ex­cited. She’s ex­cited, so I’m ex­cited,” Robin­son said.

Ad­di­son said her fa­vorite parts of school were, “learn­ing and art.”

Kinder­gart­ner Shawn Kersh at first said he wasn’t ner­vous, then added, “Well, just a lit­tle.”

Asked what he was most look­ing for­ward to, Shawn said, “to be a kinder­gart­ner.”

“It’s great see­ing the kids go­ing back to school, get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion, grow­ing up faster than we can catch, but it’s al­ways a good thing,” said his mom, Janell Kersh.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Berry Ele­men­tary School first grader Ad­di­son Robin­son talks with her mother Ka­t­rina just be­fore the start of the first day of school Mon­day morn­ing.

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