It may be difficult to see smiles through the masks, but just a few minutes at North Side Elementary and it’s easy to notice how excited students and faculty are to be back for in-person learning.
North Side 3rd-grader Leo Phillips could hardly sit still as he explained how excited he is to get back to school.
“It’s really great to be back because I get to do so many things here,” Phillips said. “I really missed everyone.”
North Side principal Sharon Pickering had similar feelings as Johnson City Schools welcomed back students who selected in-person learning on August 31.
“I love to hear their voices and see them in the hallways and classrooms,” Pickering said. “It’s nice to have kids at school, so we can help take care of their needs and support them with their education. It’s a really nice time to get our family back together.”
North Side’s mantra for the year is “Better Together” and teachers and students have quickly adopted the new saying. North Side second-grade teacher Julie Vermillion said that she was happy to have her students back in-person so they can help with their needs.
“A lot of these kids we haven’t seen since last March, so it’s been nice being able to reconnect,” Vermillion said. “I enjoy being able to see the students work and being there whenever they need my help, and that is just hard to do over the computer.”
Even though Vermilion says she may miss the mute button from time-to-time, there is nothing like the personal interaction that she can have with her students each day.
During the first week of school, Vermillion’s class read the book First Day Jitters and enjoyed some jitter juice made with Sprite and ice cream to help ease their jitters about returning to school.
The thought of the activity brightened the eyes of Alaysia Wilkins who accompanied her excitement with two big thumbs up about the experience.
“It was really good and it helped get the jitters out so we aren’t nervous at school,” Wilkins said. “I’m happy to be back with my friends and teachers.”
Students seem to be so excited about being back that they aren’t having trouble following the new procedures and protocols that are required by Johnson City Schools.
“Our students have been doing fantastic with our new procedures and protocols,” Pickering said. “They’ve really done well with keeping their masks on and respecting social distancing. We are excited about this school year and to have our students back.”