AP Environmental Science teacher Kyle Harper wasted no time on the first day of school as he told his class how important an unusual our delta is, asking them about endangered species and discussing the importance of recycling.
“This class is awesome because when you go home and turn on the TV, you are going to see that the stuff we talk about in here is happening in our world – the environment, trash, efforts to save the world,” Harper told the attentive class. “This is going to open your eyes a little bit.”
Harper then launched into a lesson on Easter Island, and then he gave his students their online homework assignment for the evening.
That was all music to the ears of junior Sha’Diamond Weatherly, who said she wants to go to college and become a nurse.
“I’m really excited,” she said of the topics discussed in class. “I want to learn new things.”
These Theodore students were among 55,000 Mobile County Public Schools students who returned to school on Aug. 6. Alabama’s largest school district has a new leader, Superintendent Chresal Threadgill, who has set high expectations.
“My expectations for the school year are obvious,” Threadgill told the media from Theodore on the first day. “We want everyone, from the principals and assistant principals to the cafeteria workers to give 110 percent each and every day for our students.”
Theodore Principal Chip Menton reiterated Threadgill’s message.
“That’s what we’ve pushed for – to give it our best every day. We owe it to our students, and I feel like we’re moving in that direction,” Menton said. “Mr. Threadgill coming in has given a big spark to the system, and I think everyone’s excited to get going.”
Throughout the district, teachers and students were taking Threadgill’s message to heart.
At Dodge Elementary, second-graders in Jennifer Brannan’s class were using their creative and productive thinking skills to show the many, varied and unusual things that a cut-out of the number two could become.
Brannan passed out the cut-outs of the number and asked her class to fill an entire page with a colorful picture. One student turned her two into a water park; another a refrigerator; and another a giant birthday cake.
Riley Allen colored his as a yellow snake protecting a coconut tree in a jungle. “I had a great idea to make it to where no one is going to want to enter this part of the jungle because there is a giant snake,” he explained. “He is protecting the coconut tree so no one else can drink the coconut juice.”
Principal Lynn Huey said she was proud to see the students’ creativity and that she looks forward to seeing more from them as the year continues.
At Kate Shepard Elementary, students were greeted on the first day with pop music, a bubble machine and cheering teachers. A red carpet had been rolled out for them beneath a huge “Welcome Back” banner, as Principal Kay Smith and her staff welcomed them with hugs and cheers.
“We wanted to help all our students feel welcome and feel special, so we let them walk the red carpet,” Smith said. “Then at 9 o’clock we had a school-wide meeting. We discussed expectations, and we discussed goals. We introduced our faculty and staff. Then we released all our kids and got down to business.”