It’s time to learn
And not just for returning students
Mallory Freeman, a first-grade teacher at Peabody-Burns Elementary School, is eager to put everything she learned last year to the test.
Freeman taught second grade in her first year of teaching. Some of her students last year had behavioral challenges ranging from being on the autism spectrum to trauma they’d endured. She recalled one boy who requested hugs every few minutes because he loved and trusted her so much.
Classrooms are a microcosm of society and reflect society’s challenges.
Peabody-Burns students start school today. Most students in the county’s other districts start classes Thursday.
Freeman’s first year teaching — in a school she attended herself — was not easy, especially with COVID-19 challenges.
“I probably learned more in my first year of teaching than some people learn in their whole career,” Freeman said.
Freeman gave the Record a tour of her classroom Tuesday. She chose a “boho jungle” theme.
Friends helped her decorate the room for her 15 students.
She’s looking forward to building relationships with her first-graders.
“I used to go into their kindergarten class,” she said.
Peabody-Burns, just like districts across the United States, struggled to hire teachers this year. The elementary school couldn’t hire an art teacher, Freeman said, so classroom teachers will incorporate art into their lessons. The school hired its preschool teacher just two weeks ago, Freeman said.
Freeman and other teachers enjoyed a lunch Tuesday courtesy of Peabody Historical Society. About 35 people — mostly teachers but also the district superintendent — showed up for the free meal, Marcia Sebree, the president of the society, said.
“This is the first year we’ve done it, and I would say it’s a total success,” Sebree said.
The society wanted to say thanks for the district’s help. Students during the last school year helped rake leaves in the fall, dusted and cleaned two buildings that the society operates, planted and weeded in the museum’s garden, and helped make displays in the winter.
Asked whether she thought the society should put on an annual back-to-school lunch, Sebree quickly said, “I think we should.”
Madison Weaver, who’s starting her first year of teaching, also attended the lunch. She will be teaching special education classes at the elementary school.
She’s not nervous, she said, but “there’s a lot I need to do, and that’s coming really fast.”
A Tabor College graduate, she said she chose to go into special education because “I love small groups and one-on-one education.”
Paraprofessionals helped decorate her room in a “Pete the Cat” theme.
Paula Harris, a speech paraprofessional for pre-school to fifth grade and Freeman’s mother, has been a para for 16 years.
She started out as a para in the gifted program but has focused on speech for 10 years.
What’s she looking forward to the most?
“Just getting to see the kids again,” she said.