Education feature: Getting back into the groove

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo First-grader Naci Durham puts her books and supplies in her desk on the first day of school after the holiday break at Sandia Elementary School.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Naci Durham wasn’t looking forward to going back to school Wednesday.

The first thing she said Wednesday morning was “Mr. Marez is going to work us hard.”

The first grader was right. Teachers at Sandia Elementary School said the first day of school after the holiday break is all about jumping back into the routine.

“Today is about getting back into the groove of getting back in school,” Principal Matthew Vetterly said.

As 7:30 a.m. snuck around, some of the 420 students that make up Sandia’s student body began trickling in for breakfast.

“We have about 10 weeks until testing begins,” Vetterly said. “So this is an opportunity to do a big push before testing.”

Fifth grade teacher Roxanne Mitchell said Wednesday is about getting right back to work.

“We have too much to learn and not enough time to learn it in, so we’re going to get going,” she said.

Fourth grade teacher Shana Pipkin began her morning by visiting neighbor classrooms in search of a pencil sharpener.

“I have to get these pencils sharpened before my kids get in here,” she said, carrying two handfuls of shiny, unsharpened #2 pencils.

Pipkin said she knows the students want to talk about their break and Christmas presents.

“I’m excited, I get to hear what they did on vacation and what they got,” she said. “They haven’t seen each other in a while so I’ll give them time to do that. After that, it’s a regular day.”

Most Wednesdays mean early release, but this Wednesday is a full day. Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said the first day of each semester is a full day, even if it falls on a Wednesday.

Second grade teacher Josie Paquette said helping students transitions back into a routine of good study habits is important.

“Students learn best with routine,” she said.