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Preparation leads up to big day
First-year teacher Megan Barton prepares her Midway Elementary classroom for the start of the new school year Thursday. - photo by Jennifer Sami

This week

For complete coverage of the start of the 2013-14 school year, see the Forsyth County News throughout the week and go online at Coming Sunday, the FCN will begin a year-long series following teachers Megan Barton and Kendall Robinson as they experience their first year in the classroom.

Surrounded by white walls, a white floor and an interactive white board, Kendall Robinson has been hard at work adding a splash of color to her classroom.

Much like it is for new students, being a first-year teacher and preparing for the start of school can be overwhelming.

“I have prepared for the first day of class for the past four years and especially during the last year,” said Robinson, who will teach math at South Forsyth High School.

“This past week has been a new experience in being able to decorate my classroom in such a way I hope will make students feel welcome.”

Fellow first-year teacher Megan Barton has also been preparing for Thursday, when the Forsyth County school system opens the 2013-14 school year.

Equipped with rigorous lesson plans, an inviting classroom and support from fellow Midway Elementary teachers, Barton said she is “eager to meet my students and parents and to begin our journey of a successful academic year.”

Barton and Robinson are two of about 280 educators new to the system, including other first-year teachers and those who have come from other districts or who are returning to teaching after a break.

“We are excited to grow our Forsyth County Schools family,” said Candy Norton, the district’s human resources director. “To work in Forsyth County Schools is not simply a career, it’s a passion.

“Our principals work extremely hard to find individuals that have the same values as we do, and also those that are committed to preparing and inspiring all students to contribute and excel.”

Superintendent Buster Evans, who has been visiting various campuses, said he is pleased to see so many new students and staff. Enrollment is projected to be up 1,200 students from a year ago.

“We are booked solid with registration appointments, registering 136 new students on Monday alone,” Evans said. “Our staff members have worked hard this summer preparing the schools, and the teachers have been quite busy, with many working at the schools prior to their official contract return date.”

In preparations for Thursday, schools have held kindergarten roundups and open houses. During the latter, parents and students toured the campus and classrooms, met teachers and received locker assignments and class schedules.

The roundups took kindergarteners and their parents on a bus ride from their neighborhoods to school, helping get the young students acclimated to the process, while also offering safety information.

Garry Puetz, transportation director said when school starts, motorists can expect delays as parents, bus drivers and high school students driving to school for the first time settle into a routine.

“The first two weeks of school is a learning process for thousands of students that have never ridden a Forsyth County bus and dozens of teachers and administrators that have never worked with Forsyth County Schools,” Puetz said.

“The first week of school, we regularly experience delays while delivering students home. Early-start elementary schools experience the least delay while the middle schools experience the greatest.”

According to Puetz, it can be a difficult process.

“We will do all we can to quickly establish a dependable schedule, but our first priority will always be to protect our students,” he said. “That takes time.

“Our process should be improved from the past, but there will always be some obstacles to clear and challenges to overcome at the start of school.”

While traffic patterns may take some time, teachers are ready for a new school year, according to Evans.

“Everyone is excited for the return of our students,” he said.