Getting classrooms ready in West Point

Amanda Payne and Erin Godfrey unpack books for the Payne's third grade classroom at South Side Elementary.
Staff Writer

South Side and Church Hill Elementary are part of The Leader in Me. It is a whole school transformation process. It teaches 21st century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

"We are doing 'The Leader in Me' and the theme this year is Dr. Seuss," Amanda Payne, a third grade teacher at South Side, said. " Each room chooses a Dr. Seuss book as a room theme."

The theme in Payne's classroom will be "Yertle the Turtle." She plans to have a turtle as a classroom pet.

"I am so excited to have Dr. Seuss as our theme this year," Payne said. "The students are going to love it. School is going to be so much fun this year."

Payne is still rearranging the furniture in her classroom and unpacking books for the upcoming school year.

"I want the room to have a whole new look," Payne said. "When students are having fun and doing things hands - on, it helps them retain what they are learning. I know when I'm excited about teaching, it makes them excited about learning. I think third grade is the best grade."

Students will be returning to the classroom Tuesday, Aug. 7. Teachers are preparing to begin another school year. The are cleaning and decorating classrooms in preparation of welcoming a new group of students.

Cindy Donahoo is principal of Church Hill Elementary and she is happy to be implementing The Leader in Me to build self-esteem in the first and second grade students.

"We have big plans for this year," Donahoo said. "While we appreciate and applaud the students academic success, we want to reward the students who display personal growth, as well. We want the children to develop good social skills."

She said although making A's and B's is important, it doesn't make you a good person.

"We want to set the foundation for students to be accepting of one another," Donahoo said. "We want them to be kind, to think of the other person's feelings and to treat each other with respect."

She loves to see the students come in excited about school. She want them to continue to feel that excitement.

"We have good behavior celebrations all through the year," Donahoo said. "We want our students to enjoy coming to school. We want them to wonder every day what we'll be doing today."

Donahoo said she wants Church Hill to be a place of consistency, where the students know what is expected of them.

"We know for some children, school is a haven," Donahoo said. "I want them to know, when they are here, they are important. They are loved and appreciated. Everyone needs that, especially our children."