Teachers and students meet, gear up for classes to start TuesdayTheir first-day-of-school clothes are hanging in their closets and their lunch boxes are ready to be packed. They're excited about reading and can hardly wait to meet everyone in class.

Yes, North Coast teachers are anxious for the year to begin.

"I think teachers get excited for the first day too," said Barbara Schade, who admitted to buying a new lunch tote. "Who am I going to see? Who am I going to meet? What should I wear?"

Schade, 39, has another reason to count down the days. Tuesday marks the beginning of her first year as a Warrenton Grade School teacher. She is among 10 new teachers this year, and one of four who are getting their own classrooms for the first time.

Schade worked as an education assistant and was a Connections teacher with the Astoria School District last year. This year she'll be teaching first-graders - an age she finds endearing in part because they're toothless.

"It's funny because it's very important to first graders," said Schade, who has posted a chart on her wall to graph tooth loss.

Shelly Alford, 34, and Tina White, 24, are also getting their own classes for the first time. They'll be teaching third grade in adjoining rooms.

"It's nice to have someone next door that's in the same boat I am," Alford said, adding that they've already planned to share reading duties.

Third gradeOn Thursday, parents were invited to bring their kids in to drop off school supplies and meet their teachers for the first time - a chance to reduce some of the first-day anxiety.

Students filed into the third-grade with pink Lizzie McGuire backpacks, Crayola crayons and watercolor sets.

LORI ASSA - The Daily Astorian

Ryan Holt, 8, smiles as his third grade teacher Shelly Alford asks him about his summer. Jan Wegner, right, will be a teacher's assistant in Alford's classroom. Heather Kelly, 8, unloaded a shiny pencil box into her desk and absorbed the room, which was covered with cursive letters, stars and a reading goal chart.

"I'm going to be nervous on the first day, you guys are a little scary," White told her.

In the other room, Ryan Holt, 8, determined that his new teacher "looks nice." He figured that she might be a little nervous on the first day, like he is sometimes.

"Sometimes I'm nervous, sometimes I'm ready," he said.

Alford said she was glad the school offered the chance for children and parents to come in early.

"Everybody has a little bit of information to give, which is great," she said after a parent cautioned her about a very bright, but talkative son.

Day by daySchade, Alford and White will all spend the first week helping kids get to know the school rules, teaching them classroom procedures, and letting them explore and touch the things they'll be using, like books and math manipulatives.

They're planning on taking it day by day, finding out what the kids know and how they like to learn.

"Being a first-year teacher, I'll have to take it slowly," Alford said. "If I look at it as a whole it's overwhelming. Plus we have the Oregon testing."

After working as substitute teachers, Alford and White are excited to see the same kids every day and have contact with parents. They're looking forward to knowing the children, so that if students walk in and are having a bad day they can tell what's going on. They're excited to see their growth from the beginning to the end of the year.

But most of all, the teachers are excited to get started on their first year.

"I'm down to the tiny things in here and I'm just waiting for the kids to come," White said.


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