Back to school
August 16, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Teachers spent the week getting their workspaces ready for students at C.C. Pinckney and Pierce Terrace elementary schools. The new school year begins today, and children aren't the only ones to feeling a little nervous about the start of a new school year.
"It's just like an actor or an actress before an event," said Cynthia Francis, a kindergarten teacher at Pierce Terrace Elementary School, Wednesday morning. "You get butterflies. It makes you a little anxious, but it passes."
The week's activities began this week with an "Opening Ceremonies" event at C.C. Pinckney Elementary School, bringing together teachers, administrators and Fort Jackson command to celebrate the successes of the previous school year, as well as the possibilities of the coming year.
"Thanks for what you all do, and for enabling me to be a part of this special opening ceremony," said Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, Fort Jackson commanding general. "My mother and father were both teachers. My mother was one of you all, and taught elementary childhood education. If that wasn't bad enough, my father was a high school teacher. I have a tremendous amount of respect for teachers and what you do for young kids, and what you stand for."
Superintendent Samantha Ingram said 31 new teachers have joined the South Carolina- Fort Stewart-DoDDS Cuba District, 10 of whom will be teaching children at Fort Jackson.
"You are surrounded by a group of dedicated, committed professionals, and they're going to embrace you and make you a part of our family," Ingram told the newcomers. "We love our military defense children, and you can see that in our every-day actions."
"Every day, something we say or do has the ability to light a fire in a young mind, and with the first tiny flame, learning can become a bonfire," said Linda Curtis, acting director and deputy director for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. "That little speck of excitement might be the trigger to light that bonfire."
Among those new faces at Fort Jackson schools is Annie Crandle, the incoming principal of C.C. Pinckney.
"I bring to you experience of working with children of all ages, all backgrounds, to make sure they reach their potential and that they are successful," Crandle told her colleagues during Monday's event. "We can make a difference in the lives of our children if we stay focused on the children. It's not about us, it's all about the children."
Citing an end of the year benchmark assessment, Ingram said 80 percent of the students in kindergarten and first grade at Pierce Terrace were reading at or above proficiency.
"We know that C.C. Pinckney's success also depends on the great work that happens at Pierce Terrace," Ingram said. "Third grade met three of their stretch goals in reading, mathematics and science on Terra Nova in the top two quarters. Our district teacher of the year was selected from right here on Fort Jackson, Miss Evetta Johnson from C.C. Pinckney Elementary School."
The new school year brings with it higher levels of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, especially during morning and afternoon hours. Administrators and Fort Jackson security officials are advising both parents and drivers to be mindful of road safety as the school year begins.
"Traffic gets pretty bad around the schools," said Brian Perry, principal of Pierce Terrace. "We encourage first and second graders at Pierce Terrance to be walkers, if possible. Our enrollment is up to about 325 (students), which is great news, but with that comes more traffic."
"We have zero tolerance for speeding in housing areas and school zones," Lt. Col. Ray Simons, director of emergency services for Fort Jackson, told an audience during an Aug. 7 town hall meeting at the Solomon Center. "So anyone who gets pulled over in those locations can expect a ticket. It will not be a warning."
A construction project has closed Gate 2 to traffic at Fort Jackson, creating a challenge for drivers leaving and entering the post. Parents who drive their children to school should add additional time to their travel plan to account for these changes. The Directorate of Emergency Services will have police officers in the school zones enforcing speed limits, as well as crossing guards at major intersections where children cross.
"I live in the Forest Acres community, and about a year ago that community was rocked," said Ronald Ross, garrison safety manager. "We had a tragic accident in which an 11 year old ... was struck by a vehicle. I don't know what caused that mishap. It could have been on the part of the driver, it could have been the kid. But the point I'm trying to make is that it was a tragic incident that should not have happened."
Ross said parents should talk to their children about traffic concerns, and to ask them to be mindful of inattentive drivers.
"Also, tell them to stay on that sidewalk and to walk, not run, especially in the vicinity of traffic," he said. "Stress to them that they need to use the designated cross walk."
Keisha McCoy Wilson, school liaison officer, said transportation to and from the post might be delayed.
"I've spoken to district representation and they wanted to convey that due to this closure, student pick-up and drop-off may be delayed," she said. "They will be making every effort to ensure an easy transition to and from post."