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Alcoa teachers excited for “new normal” school year

Alcoa City Schools teachers said they’re prepared for the start of the school year.
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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ALCOA, Tenn. (WVLT) - Alcoa City Schools teachers said they’re prepared for the start of the school year.

Third grade teacher Amber Harper spoke on how excited she is to get back. “I feel like I’m going back to my heart. I love working closely with the children and just making those relationships. I’m really excited to go back to the classroom,” said Harper.

For 15 years Harper’s been molding students’ minds. Last year she taught virtually and missed being in the classroom.

Harper explained, “Kids are wired to make connections and to engage with peers and they learn so well from bouncing ideas off each other and working closely together with each other.”

With COVID on the rise again, safety still takes precedent including hand sanitizer and social distancing.

“This year we’re still being cognizant of seating, like where the kids are going to be, changing groups and things, so we’re trying to be more thoughtful about, getting our groups situated at the first of the year and trying to keep those the same,” said Matt Price, a third grade teacher.

Masks aren’t required. Even for the third, fourth and fifth graders at Alcoa Intermediate School.

Third grade teacher, LaToya Woodlee’s ok with students not having to wear masks.

“I am excited that I actually get to see all the students’ face. And I know there might be some that still may want to wear that, and that’s absolutely fine,” said Woodlee.

Fourth grade teacher Miranda Thomas understood kids still may be processing what happened last year when getting back to normal this year.

Thomas said, “I think that my focus this year has really been on creating a calm, healing environment for kids that are coming out of really stressful times.”

She’s decluttering, using soft lighting, and adding a calm corner to help her students.

“Our school culture is a huge part of that--creating a culture where kids feel safe, where the families are connected, where there’s kids that know they’re loved.”

Students return beginning on July 21, staggered by the first letter of their last name for the first few days of the new year.

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