Teachers go the extra mile to prepare for upcoming school year

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

As kids return from their summer vacations and mentally prepare for school, the teachers are hard at work preparing for a seamless transition.

The work to prepare for a new school year is a daunting task for teachers. This transition tends to get easier with experience, but for the newcomers, it’s the most important and hectic time of the year.

John-Peter Ford, the new general music and choir teacher at Picayune Memorial High School, is starting his first year as an educator. In his efforts to prepare for the beginning of school, Ford said a lot of what he is doing is prep work, writing lesson plans that correspond with the curriculum and coming up with various classroom activities to keep the students engaged. But most importantly, Ford said his first priority is establishing the foundation of what is expected in the classroom.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The vital part of the first couple of days is making sure that when the students walk into the classroom, they understand that there is a structure; a certain set of rules, principles and ideals that guide the work we do in the classroom,” Ford said. “Once the kids know what is expected of them, it gives teachers more flexibility to focus and continually work on the tasks at hand.”

Another new teacher at PMHS is taking a similar approach to prepare for the first day of school, but her experience is more of a homecoming than anything else.

Tangy Franklin, the new foundations of algebra and algebra I teacher, graduated from PMHS in 1995. The former Homecoming Queen said she has not been to the campus since then, but immediately felt like she was at home as she walked the hallways for the first time in 22 years.

“If feels pretty awesome to be back,” she said.

Because of her husband’s occupation, Franklin has lived in multiple states and decided to take a step back from teaching to raise her family. Eight years later, she decided to return to the classroom. She plans to use her life experiences in her first year back as a teacher.

“When I was moving around everywhere, I’ve been around several school systems with my children and have seen how other school systems do things and what I wished they did, as a parent. I plan on using what I learned to make sure everything is laid out crystal clear for the families and am excited to get started in the place that helped me become who I am today,” Franklin said.

Her eight year hiatus leaves her with a lot to catch up on.

“It’s like starting a new sport, you got to get acclimated with everything and learn the ropes. Then, everything will begin to come as second nature,” she said.

Even teachers with years of experience have the challenging task of preparing for the new school year, including Kim Williams, PMHS 10th grade English teacher.

Williams spent 14 of her 16 years as a teacher at Poplarville High School and for the most recent of those years she was a senior English teacher. Now, she was given the task to teach the sophomore class, something she has not done in a long time. Despite that, her preparation tactic has not changed, as she has learned over the years how important it is to get started on the right foot.

“If you don’t give the students a good impression of you, then you are going to have trouble reaching them throughout the year,” Williams said. “We make an impression on each other on day one. It’s hard to live those down if you come in and everything seems chaotic and unorganized.”

Her advice for new teachers about preparing for a new school year is to make sure the students know what is expected of them and to have fun, because that positive energy in the classroom will keep students engaged and they will take more from the course.