Mark Twain Elementary School students didn’t mind roaming about their new hallways Monday, waving at teachers as they peeked into classrooms and spotted them or figured out the answers to their burning questions.
New Vice Principal Kevin Sady might have been just as giddy Monday now that he’s settling into his new professional digs in Carson City with a new team, new students and a new school home and making his way into classrooms to make his introductions.
“Everyone I’ve met has been super positive and super welcoming ... This is my first ‘first day of school’ in, like, 13 years,” he said. “And it’s still a little, like, where do I eat lunch and where do I park my car? And everyone has been so understanding.”
Although Principal Ruthlee Caloiaro was unable to attend school for the first day back, Sady said Monday morning went well as the school welcomed its kindergarteners through fifth graders back to begin its 2019-20 year this week. Preschool begins next week.
“Everyone is super positive and super welcoming,” he said. “I felt like I was absorbed.”
Students responded well at breakfast time, Sady said, where all students now receive breakfast through its Free and Reduced Lunch program.
“There’s no shame in eating breakfast,” Sady said, whether they wanted a second breakfast after eating already at home or receiving food for the first time because they came from home unable to eat.
Mark Twain brought on three new teachers to join its approximate 75-member total staff of classified and teachers. While still looking to fill another one or two positions, the school overall was prepared.
New teachers went to work a little early this year, and Sady said the school was a little different than most Carson City sites with its ongoing capital projects work. Mark Twain hadn’t even received its certificate of occupancy until last week, requiring some teachers to come in later than usual to set up their classrooms.
“I came in here Sunday and this place was full,” Sady said. “(During some of the work) Ruthlee had to hold some of them back... She’d tell them, ‘You can peek but you can’t go in there.’”
Two of the school’s fourth grade teachers said they were excited to return. Lisa Hagen, now in her 26th year with Carson City and starting her 31st as a teacher, and Maria Roice, starting her fifth as a teacher but new to teaching the fourth grade, reflected on what keeps them working with children and the school district.
“It still feels like a small place, and that’s what keeps me coming back year after year,” Hagen said. “It’s the personal part of it from the district office to the principals. ... (I love) working with the kids. You have to keep focused on why you’re here.”
Roice, who said she looks to her colleagues like Hagen for support, said the children are her motivation.
“I think that’s a shared passion for most of us,” she said. “I got really lucky. I have a great team and I enjoy collaborating with them. I can learn from them ... and we can just capitalize on each other’s strengths and generally make it a great experience for us and for the kids.
Superintendent Richard Stokes welcomed in the new school year, reassuring families that the district would continue to focus on the needs of its students.
“At Carson City School District, we want your child to be successful,” he said. “We care about each and every student. We focus on the individual needs of every student and seek to provide the resources necessary for success.
“Student safety continues to be the highest priority. We want students to feel comfortable at school and know that our sole priority is to support them as they become productive citizens. The new school year is a great time to discuss safe practices with your student. Whether your child rides a bus or bike to school, safe practices will help to protect our most valuable resources ... our children!”