Back to School time is important for every single student, but the first day of school for Wilton’s newest students is something remarkable to watch. Yesterday, faculty and staff at Miller-Driscoll Elementary School, Wilton’s pre-K through Grade 2 school, welcomed students, many of them for the first time ever in school.
Led by principal Kathy Coon, Miller-Driscoll teachers and professionals greeted the children–many as young as five years old–and steered the students from the school buses to waiting teachers. Kindergarteners sat grouped with their new classmates, taking in the experience as new friends joined one by one. Teachers checked name tags, double-checked class lists and started to get to know their young learners.
Remarkably, everyone found their way to the right location, even though it looked a little like herding cats. With close to 800 students enrolled at Miller-Driscoll, and 13 kindergarten classes this year (“So much for that declining enrollment. We are going to single-handedly conquer that right there!” Coon quipped) getting everyone situated by 9:30 a.m. was a feat worth bragging about.
“Besides the fact that it was hot, I think it went great. All hands on deck!” Coon said of her staff and how quickly they got the students in the right place. “I think we had only one student with a couple of tears this morning, that was it. By the time she found her teacher she was fine, so it’s all good.”
Pitching in with the teachers was superintendent of schools, Dr. Kevin Smith, who even rode one of the buses to help make it easier for some of the kids.
The first few days for the students will be all about feeling comfortable in school and growing accustomed to the new systems and schedules. For the teachers, Coon says their overriding objective is to connect with the kids.
“That’s what we’ve said to the teachers: ‘Just take a minute, you don’t have to dive right in–you just have to connect with the kids.’ We’ve said to them, ‘Until you know 10 things about a kid, you’re not ready to teach them.’ So we have lots of activities that they focused on last year that we’ll continue to focus on this year. And then with kindergarten it’s getting to know where the playground is, where the lunch room is, how to get your lunch, that kind of stuff–a lot of touring.”
For all the before-the-first-day hoopla, Coon says the students take it all in stride. “The kids are skipping off to class, it’s the parents that are like…” she cranes her neck, mimicking what the parents look like, afraid to leave as they watch their kids walk away.