HIALEAH GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) – Students are not the only ones about to hit the books next week. South Florida schoolteachers are also getting prepared for the first day of school.
Jennifer Valliere, an exceptional student education teacher at Hollywood Park Elementary School, on Friday, showed 7News her classroom, as she put on the finishing touches ahead of Tuesday, when her students are set return from their summer break.
“We use a lot of flexible sitting, and I actually have my kids bring in yoga mats,” she said.
Valliere said she gets her students moving and excited to learn from day one.
“I teach students with intellectual disabilities in our special programs class, and they are all fifth graders,” she said.
As an ESE teacher, Valliere said, she often has to think outside of the box when teaching. Some of her students are nonverbal.
“I would just put a picture there and say good morning,” she said as she showed a recording device with a touchpad.
The bulletin boards are up and ready to go at Hollywood Park Elementary, as teachers from Broward County Public Schools organize and prepare for Tuesday.
“I think we’re happy to start the year, just being able to sit the kids together and just get a fresh start from the beginning as opposed to having to space them apart,” said BCPS teacher Elena Cardet.
With mask mandates no longer enforced, teachers said it allows them to do what they love: teach.
“It’s a lot easier, in the sense of communicating. We’re going to have a lot of read-alouds and picture books. It’s hard to do with a mask,” said BCPS teacher Maria Weaver.
Classes at Miami-Dade County Public Schools begin Monday.
7News cameras captured Kenia Pérez, who teaches kindergarten at Hialeah Gardens Elementary School, making sure her classroom is ready to receive her students.
“Super excited, tremendously excited to get back to our pre-social distancing guidelines,” she said. “I’m a big believer in students working in groups, collaborating with each other.”
Pérez said she’s been planning all summer long for day one.
“Filling the gap, the learning gap that has been going on for the past few years is my biggest concern,” she said. “That’s why I came up with all these great activities … work with [students] one on one, work with them while playing, because at this age, they like to play.”
Fellow M-DCPS teacher Erac Long said he’s also thrilled to see his students again.
“It’s really exhilarating. You get them fresh. They either come from pre-K or a daycare center, so you get to mold them and kind of create their future,” he said.
“More than anything, I’m looking forward to see the smiles on my students. I think that’s very important, to see their emotions, for them to see mine,” said another Hialeah Gardens Elementary teacher. “We are so ready. We are so ready for them.”
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