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A Taste of the New School Year Kimberley Park Elementary
For more pictures, go to Your Permanent Record.
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
AUGUST 18, 2021 – With teachers back in schools, everyone has been getting ready for the first day for students on Monday Aug. 23.
“I am really excited about the beginning of the school year,” said Janel Sharpe, an assistant principal at Kimberley Park Elementary. “Last year, in spite of COVID, it was a really positive year.”
“We used technology in ways we hadn’t used it before.”
That and such other new approaches as Data Driven Instruction and additional support along with help from such people at Multi-Classroom Leaders (MCL) all served teachers and students.
“It had a positive impact on teaching and learning,” Sharpe said, “and we will be building on it this year.”
On Tuesday Aug. 17 – the day before students and parents would be coming to Kimberley Park for open houses – teachers were adding attractive touches to their rooms.
Brandon Herbin, the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) Coordonator, was putting the finishing touches on a “Mr. Herbin” display on the front wall of his classroom. His wife, Kimone Herbin, who teaches fifth grade at Kimberley Park, was helping.
When she headed back to her classroom, she added the final touches to her “Lights, Camera, Read!” bulletin board.
With Kimberley Park being an Inspire 340 school, teachers there returned Aug. 9. Teachers at other schools returned on Aug. 16.
Kathryn Gehrs has been teaching at Kimberley Park for 15 years. Over the years, she has taught different grades - primarily kindergarten and first grade.
“I moved three classrooms in three years,” she said.
The change from teaching kindergarten last year to teaching first grade this year meant that – with help from colleagues and rolling carts – she moved everything to a new classroom.
“Thanks to some wonderful teachers and assistant who helped me, it wasn’t that bad,” Gehrs said.
“I need to say a huge thank you to the custodians too. They have helped me move my larger furniture for the past three years. This year, they also had to find desks and chairs for me because my classroom didn't have any.”
“I also want to thank administrators for constantly checking to see if I had everything I need.”
Gehrs is happy to have all the books she has collected over the years in her new classroom. She was less enthusiastic about some of the paperwork she has accumulated over the years. She was thinking it might be time to get rid of some of the papers that are older than her students.
In recent days, along with making the move and preparing her new classroom, Gehrs had been participating in various trainings with other teachers.
Gehrs was looking forward both to students and parents coming to the open houses and to the first day of school.
“I love the first day of school,” she said.
Gehrs has three children, and, this year, all three will be joining her at Kimberley Park. Desean will be in fourth grade. Peyton will be in second grade, and Chloe will be in Pre-K.
“I am really excited for the new year,” she said.
The next day – at noon on Wednesday Aug. 18 – students and their families began arriving for the first of four open houses scheduled at Kimberley Park.
As Gehrs was standing in the doorway to her classroom, one of her former students – Lyriq Owens – spotted her and raced down the hall to give Gehrs a hug.
When school starts on Monday, Lyriq will be in fourth grade. Asked what made Gehrs a special teacher, Lyriq said, “She is so nice.”
Gehrs told Lyriq that Desean will be in the same class.
When physical education teacher Juwon Crowell stopped by Gehrs’ classroom to drop off flyers about the Saturday soccer program that he is starting this year, Gehrs, who played soccer herself when she was growing up, said Desean and Peyton would definitely be signing up. (Chloe will have to wait until she is in kindergarten to join them.)
In third-grade teacher Sara Cameron’s classroom, Cameron was visiting with Nakeela and Prevail Martin and their parents, Preece and Natasha Martin.
Nakeela is the third-grader who will be in Cameron’s classroom. Prevail will be in first grade. Their father volunteered that he will be in kindergarten this year.
Nakeela said she was feeling a little nervous because she had been to Kimberley Park in a while. Last year, she attended WS/FCS Virtual Academy.
Nakeela already knows she wants to become a teacher one day.
“My old teachers inspired me to be the next teacher,” she said.
Asked whether she knows yet what grade she wants to teacher, she said, “No. I have to do all the grades to see which one is my favorite.”
As the Martins were heading out, Emanual Zuniga-Adame and his mother, Adilene Adame-Castillo, were coming into Cameron’s room.
When she greeted him and asked him whether he was excited to start school on Monday, Emanuel said, “Not really. Third grade is so hard.”
Cameron smiled and said she would make sure he had a good year.
“We want to make learning fun,” she said.
Like Nakeela, Cameron already knows what he wants to do when he grows up. His mother is a really good cook, he said, and he wants to become a chef.
His planned speciality?
“Cakes and burgers,” he said and smacked his lips in an appetizing way that undoubtedly made everyone else in the classroom hope that cakes and burgers awaited them in the not-too-distant future.
In another third-grade classroom, Caleb Myers, and his great-grandmother, Joyce Myers, were meeting his new teacher - Grashia Connelly.
Asked whether he was looking forward to the new year, Caleb gave a thumb’s up and said he wanted to learn new stuff.
The halls and classrooms at Kimberley Park were brimming with colorful bulletin boards and other materials connected to learning.
On one hallway wall, Randy Raines, who is the visual art teacher, had created a bulletin board with a quote from noted painter Bob Ross” “We Don’t Make Mistakes, Just Happy Little Accidents.”
On other walls, he had created a “Where in the World…” display with maps and other materials that will be used to illustrate a new way of looking at teachers of such subjects as music, physical education/health, and visual arts. They will now be identified as “exploratory” teachers.
The display also looks at how people throughout the world contribute creatively. For now, the world map has just a couple of specifics, such as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. As students and teachers go on one creative exploration after another in coming months, Raines envisions the maps being packed with information.
Kimberley Park staff member Jamila Smith participated in the open house as a parent. She was there with her husband, Kevin Smith, and their twins, Khalif and Makeda, who will be in second grade.
Jamila Smith grew up here and graduated from East Forsyth High in 1995. She has been teaching third grade at Kimberley Park. This year, she is taking on a new role as the Literacy Coach.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a new adventure. I’m here to support student learning.”
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