BACK TO BUSINESS: Teachers prepare for new year

Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2014

 JOURNAL PHOTO | MONA MOORE Crenshaw Christian Academy’s Debbie Christian, Angela Carpenter and Amber McInvale paint signs for classroom doors.

Crenshaw Christian Academy’s Debbie Christian, Angela Carpenter and Amber McInvale paint signs for classroom doors.

Brantley teacher Leann Tew had a bit of trouble setting up her laptop Monday.

“This computer is going to make me talk ugly,” she laughed.

A few minutes later, she was cheering with success. Tew joined teachers throughout the county as they reported for their first day of school Monday. To prepare for the first day of school, the staffs of Crenshaw County Schools and Crenshaw Christian Academy opened classrooms, pulled out decorations and turned plain white walls into inspiration for their students.

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Former Brantley teacher Daryll Blakely was just around to say his goodbyes. He starts a new job in Georgia Tuesday. “I came here really young and she (Tew) was like a mother to me,” he said.

It was that camaraderie – amongst teachers, students and parents – Blakely said he would miss most and that kind of camaraderie that Principal Dodd Hawthorn will count on Saturday. The school will have its annual Pride Day.

“It’s to help clean up the school a little bit, get ready for Monday,” Hawthorn said.

About 50 or 60 parents, teachers and students usually show up to help pressure wash sidewalks, trim hedges and paint a few walls.

The school hired two new faculty members: Band director Caleb Palmer and high school science teacher Lee Grosenbach.

“We have a great faculty and staff, great students and the support from families is better than any I’ve ever seen,” said Hawthorn.

Angela Carpenter, headmaster of Crenshaw Christian School, was excited about the new staff joining the school. Greg Gibson will wear three hats as head football coach, athletic director and assistant administrator.

The school will welcome two more coaches to the staff. Mike Arrchee will assist with football. He will also teach health, P.E. and drivers’ education. John Hii has been named head basketball coach and will teach history.

“Those aren’t the only additions,” Carpenter said. “Dr. Bob Yawn will be our religious instructor. Teaching K-4, I have Emily Morgan Smith; K-5 will be Amber McInvale and Fourth grade will be Lisa Musso Lowe.”

With 52 years of teaching under her belt, Patsy Morgan said she was ready for a change. She decided to start the year off with a fresh new theme for her fifth-grade class.

“I just needed a lift in here,” she said. “I went from ‘The Fishing Boat’ to ‘The Giving Tree.’”

First-grade teacher Debbie Christian joined McInvale and Lowe in making blue paw signs for each classroom door. Christian said she was more than ready to get back to her classroom after the first two weeks of summer break.

“When you’re a teacher, that’s what you do,” she said. “You just want to be with the babies.”

This being McInvale’s first year teaching, she said she was excited about everything.

“Pencil sharpening makes her excited,” quipped Lowe.

“Just a little bit,” admitted McInvale.

Luverne School custodian Bruce Beasley found himself on his hands and knees Monday afternoon. The school floors received special attention with a high-gloss wax that magnified every speck of light that hit it.

“We had to redo all the floors in each room and make everything shine again,” Beasley said.

Beasley did his best to preserve that shine as teachers moved into their classrooms. That preservation involved rubbing out every scuff mark by hand.

Other than the occasional scuff, all was well at Luverne School. Assistant Principal Jamie Howard said teachers from all three schools attended an in-service Monday and spent the rest of the week in break-out training sessions.

“It went extremely well,” he said.

Howard looked forward to the district’s new offerings: technical classes in engineering and welding.

“I’m very excited about the career technical program,” he said.

Students from Brantley and Highland Home will have the option of taking some of the courses online or attending them in person.

Highland Home Assistant Principal Morgan Cook looked forward to starting a school ambassador program she had in Prattville. “We’re very excited,” she said.

Cook had a few words of advice for returning students. “You can trash all the negativity that was last year,” she said. “We’re ready for positive change. It’s a new year. So, everybody gets a fresh start.”