The hallways at area schools are, at the moment, bare and quiet. One can almost hear a pin drop on the ghostly hallway floors. Yet, faculty, staff and administrators are busy, behind closed doors, making things ready for the first day of school.
Area schools are excited about the upcoming school year and have new things in store for their students.
John Walker, elementary principal of Izard County Consolidated, said, "We have a Reading Counts program through Scholastics to strengthen reading comprehension. The elementary school also is implementing Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) and MathLinks in grades K-4 which fosters problem solving strategies." The school has also added a self-contained special education classroom.
ICC also has some new teachers. Gloria Brown will teach music. Michele Herron will teach self-contained special education and Takara Kinion will have some added responsibilities teaching special education in kindergarten through fourth grade and pre-school special education.
Both superintendents, John May of Viola and Ken Rich of Salem, said their elementaries are adding a new software program called Study Island, which will enhance classroom learning.
Elementary students at Salem will have some added fun. Rich said, "There's a new walking and running track."
Salem High School is getting an advanced placement math course and four pre-advanced placement courses.
Students will also see a change at lunch time. "We will have replaced all the cafeteria lunch tables by the time school starts," Rich said.
Salem schools are also getting some new faculty and staff. Miranda Hurtt will teach first grade and Tiffany Fish will teach second grade. The school has also added a new nurse, Melanie Stone.
Salem High School will have Sam Weir teaching social studies and acting as head football coach. Kristie Brewer will teach environmental, physical and earth sciences. The school also added a new maintenance person, Ray Hollis.
Rich said the school is introducing a program school-wide called School Reach. School Reach is an automated phone messaging system. "It can contact parents in case of an early dismissal or an emergency," Rich said.
Viola High School has some new additions, as well. Brian Russell is the new high school principle and Melodie Cox will head the Gifted and Talented program and teach English and journalism.
May said the school will also add a professional aid, and he cautioned that during the school year there might be some construction going on and a lack of parking spaces.
ICC, Salem and Viola schools are all excited about school starting up again.
Brewer, a first year teacher at Salem, said, "I'm lovin' it!"
Brewer graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She said, "I've been blessed to get a job like this. This is my dream job."
Denise Browning, second grade teacher at Viola gave some advise to parents. She said, "Make sure that you make it a fun ordeal. Because as kids get older, it's not as much fun to go back to school."
"We hope they've (the students) enjoyed their summer and are ready to learn," said Rich.
May said to students, "Get ready to come. We're excited for you to be here."