Johnson City Schools gets set for upcoming school year

Brandon Paykamian • Aug 1, 2019 at 9:00 PM

A lot of work goes into getting ready for the first day of school, Towne Acres Elementary School Principal Josh Simmons said.

“The past two weeks have just been jam-packed with making sure the grounds are ready and making sure all the rooms are clean and ready for the kids,” he said. “With rosters, it’s been a busy couple of weeks enrolling new students.”

Simmons said Towne Acres will welcome nearly 100 new kindergarteners on the first abbreviated day of school on Monday. They will be part of a student body of about 440 students, marking an increase of about 40 students.

But preparing for a new academic year isn’t all about logistics. It’s also about mental preparation.

As a father himself, Simmons said he understands the anxiety parents and students feel on the first day of school, especially if they are starting school for the first time.

To help ease the stress, Simmons said it's important for teachers and staff to “connect with every kid that walks through the doors” and “treat the children like they’re our own.”

“They might not have been in a pre-K program or anything like that, so there is some anxiety involved,” he said. “What we do is we try to greet every child with a smile and try to reassure the parents that everything will be OK.”

Luckily, Simmons has a lot of experience getting to know new students. He’s worked as a teacher at both Towne Acres and North Side Elementary before working in administration as assistant principal of Lake Ride, Mountain View and Fairmont elementary schools.

“It’s actually very exciting. When the school year ends in May, it’s always good to have a week or two to just catch your breath, but then after that, after a week or so, you really start missing the kids, families and missing the teachers,” he said. “There’s just a renewed sense of excitement and energy. It’s a totally different place when we get the kids, teachers and families here.”

Every year, the district welcomes nearly 580 teachers and staff and 7,800 students back to begin a new school year.

“Our staff has had a busy summer preparing for the upcoming school year, and we are excited to welcome our students and families back,” Superintendent Steve Barnett said Monday. “We are fortunate to have such a great community and to be able to provide our students with a top-notch education and exposure to opportunities that will help them become successful members of society once they graduate from Science Hill High School.”

A snapshot of the district, according to recent Johnson City Schools and Tennessee Department of Education data:

• Nearly 8,000 students expected this year in the district 

• 1% annual growth in enrollment 

• In 2018-19, Science Hill had 614 students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes, a record number from 301 students in 2017-2018 

• 12.9% of students have disabilities 

• Nearly 5% of students are English learners 

• 34.6% of students economically disadvantaged 

• Nearly 60 home languages spoken 

• White students make up about 68.9% of the student body, while black students make up about 15.9%, Asian students make up 3.7% and Hispanic students make up 10.9% 

• Buses travel 530,243 miles every year

• Nearly 740,000 lunches served and 315,000 breakfasts served

• Spending per pupil: $10,412 

For more information on the district and calendar, visit www.jcschools.org

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