East Feliciana teachers prepare for first day of school

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - For the first time in several years, students in East Feliciana Parish will be heading to school on a Monday. Five years ago, the district moved to a four-day week because of financial reasons. But the new superintendent says students need that extra day.

That's one of a few new changes to the school system.

Teachers at Clinton Elementary School are teaming up to make sure things are ready for the approaching first day of students. In the second grade wing, some teachers are working together to fix bulletin boards and make sure they have their rooms set up.

"Everybody's working together," said new principal Thelemese Porter. "We're calling this the new Clinton Elementary."

Porter has introduced a new theme to her teachers, 'The magic happens here.' That magic is to remind teachers and students that they are more than what the state has rated them, an F school.

To make sure that grade improves, Porter says they are planning to check student progress starting on the first day. That way teachers know where each child stands and where they need to be.

"Every two weeks designing assessments to see where students are, so we can look and know...What are we doing? Is it working?" Porter said.

This year, teachers will be transitioning to the states new core curriculum. Superintendent Henderson Lewis describes what's coming as a more vigorous work load for students.

"It's going to be a little different. Work is going to be a little more challenging this school year," he said.

Lewis added at every school, two teachers have been identified to help others understand the changes. Those teachers have gone through training and helped rewrite the curriculum in East Feliciana.

The coming changes also means the district had to get new classroom materials.

"Current materials we use in our classrooms were not sufficient," said Lewis. He says using different resources they have been able to get new ELA and math materials, to keep up with what's required.

Those changes are just one of several reasons why the school board staff also made the decision to go back to a five-day school week. This year instead of an extra hour added to four school days, teachers will have a full eight-hour day to teach. That means instead of school for elementary students lasting from 7:45 a.m. through 3:45 p.m., students will now be dismissed at 2:45 p.m.

Lewis says teachers reported students were checking out in the afternoons because of the long day. So moving back to a five-day week seemed the best decision to make sure students are attentive during instruction time, in order to meet their academic targets.

The superintendent says the only way students can succeed, is for everyone to work together. That also is this year's theme for the district: 'One team, one vision, one goal.'

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