Teachers getting ready for students to return to school

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By Jesef Williams

Colorful posters and display boards have been hung along the first-grade hall at Erwin Elementary School.

Sharon Minors, who teachers on that hall, said decorations are just a small part of the preparation for the first day of school.

Lesson plans and classroom schedules are also coming together.

The first day of school for most students in the Lancaster County School District is Thursday. While teachers like Minors ensure things in the classrooms are in order, many students and their parents will have to adjust to earlier wake-up times, bus stops and classroom schedules.

"I always get very excited this time of year because I'm ready to come back," said Cynthia Robinson, who teachers kindergarten at Erwin Elementary. "I have trouble sleeping because I can't shut my mind down (from thinking about the start of school)."

On Tuesday morning, Minors and her assistant were busy decorating their classroom with bright signs and other displays. She started working on the room at the end of July and was putting the final touches on things.

The goal is to create an atmosphere the students can be comfortable with, Robinson said. For many of her kindergartners, this will be their first public school experience.

"I try to love them like I love my own and make them feel welcome and comfortable," she said.

Robinson's kindergartners will be among the 11,200 students expected in the district this year, district spokesman David Knight said. There will be close to 1,000 teachers and school-level administrators.

Class times and start dates

Although the first official day is Thursday, the sixth- and ninth-graders start today. The intent is to help them become more comfortable being in a new building.

Their day will run from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For elementary students on Thursday, the school day begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 2:05 p.m. At middle and high schools, the first bell rings at 8:25 a.m. Dismissal is at 3 p.m.

Administrators are spending a great portion of the days leading up to the start of school making sure all the "small things" are in place, said Tony Brasington, assistant principal at Erwin Elementary. Text books for students and appropriate teaching materials are part of that check list.

"You want to get the students in at the right places and set the tone from Day One," he said. "That's pretty much true for each of the schools."

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152