While the first couple days of school seemed to go smoothly across much of Washington County, for Angie Charles, her son and his classmates beginning the first grade was a little less seamless than they had anticipated.
When Charles and her son showed up at Jonesborough Elementary School Tuesday for the first abbreviated day back to school, they learned that the teacher wouldn’t be Peggy Wright as they had been told over the summer. In fact, there was no teacher for that class yet.
Parents were told Wright had taken a job as assistant principal at David Crockett High School and the school was still uncertain who would teach the class. Charles said the school’s physical education teacher led the students and parents to their classroom on Tuesday to explain the situation. Charles said the classroom was devoid of any decoration or supplies and there weren’t enough desks for all the students.
“All of us mothers were a bit apprehensive,” Charles said.
The parents and students were told the school hoped to have a permanent teacher the following day.
“You could see the expression on the kids’ faces,” Charles said. “They just looked bewildered. They looked uneasy. Especially for my son, it wasn’t the happy, exciting first day of school he was expecting.”
According to Director of Schools Ron Dykes, this situation is quite normal for most school systems and occurs annually in Washington County schools. Each year enrollment for each school varies and sometimes it’s necessary to move staff around in order to adjust.
Dykes said it sometimes takes a couple of days to get the new enrollment numbers in, and to hire extra staff beforehand isn’t fiscally responsible.
For Charles though, a little bit of a heads-up seemed appropriate.
“The biggest complaint was the lack of communication, especially on the front end and the lack of attention (to the students and the classroom) on the first day of school,” Charles said.
Wednesday was a full day for the students and while there had been hope of a better start, Charles said the only difference was there was a seasoned substitute teacher in place. The room was still bare and lacking supplies and until later in the morning there were still not enough desks for each student.
Charles said several of the mothers, herself included, stayed part of the morning to help the children and substitute teacher adjust.
“It was just unnerving to see the look on the kids’ faces to not have a teacher,” Charles said.
Dykes said as of Wednesday afternoon a teacher for the class has been chosen and the students should be able to meet their teacher this morning.