Clothes Pins, Hot Glue and Elmo

Kent ISD Districts Prep for New Year

Lowell Area Schools teacher Martha Hayden

District staff across Kent ISD busied themselves in the weeks and days leading up to today, readying their buildings and classrooms for students.

Lowell
Martha Hayden worked quietly but quickly to get her second-grade classroom at Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell set for students. Every small desk had a welcome packet, and Hayden had inscribed a clothespin with each child’s name, ready to make their way across the good behavior chart that will chart their course through the months ahead.

Hayden, a 25-year teaching veteran — all at Lowell Area Schools — said she was particularly excited to greet this year’s “26 toothless grins.”

“Last year I missed the first 57 days” (due to back surgery), she explained. “It is such an honor and a privilege to get to teach kids.”

Comstock Park Public Schools custodian Dennis Ford

Comstock Park
Dennis Ford — “like ‘themenace’ and like the car company,” he said — and a crew of custodians went from building to building in the week before school.

“We’re making sure the place is spick-and-span,” said Ford, who has worked for the district since December. “There’s plenty to do, but it doesn’t take much to get rid of a little dust and cobwebs.”

At Mill Creek Middle School, science teacher Meghan Butler wore athletic clothing for a reason. She spent the afternoon climbing atop counters in her classroom, hanging posters dotted at the corners with hot glue in time for the first day.

“Last year I was really panicking right about now,” said Butler, who is starting her second full year of teaching. “It’s a lot of work, but now that it’s coming together it’s getting really exciting. A few (students) stopped in today to say hi. It’s fun to see how they’ve grown over the summer.”

Thornapple Kellogg kindergarten teacher Karen Young

Thornapple Kellogg
“I am so ready,” said Karen Young, a kindergarten teacher at McFall Elementary for 17 years, who had her room full of letters, numbers, colors and Elmo nearly put together a week before classes started. Elmo is her helper who goes on the end of a magic wand and helps students learn the days of the week and how to count, Young explained.

She said she loves teaching kindergarten and expects some of the students she’ll teach this year will probably come back and say hi when they’re all grown up. “I call them my babies, they’re always my babies,” although never in front of them, she said of the bond she makes with her students.

Elmo is an example of some of the ways to teach she’s added over the years, and she expects to add some more this year. “I make things up all the time, and I remember ‘Wow, that works,’ so I do it from year to year.”

Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio

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