Glastonbury schools prepare for return of students

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
On Aug. 15, Buttonball Lane School second-grade teacher Jenny Custer puts students' workbooks in their desks, in order to get ahead of preparations for the first day of school. Photos by Steve Smith.
On Aug. 15, Buttonball Lane School second-grade teacher Jenny Custer puts students' workbooks in their desks, in order to get ahead of preparations for the first day of school. Photos by Steve Smith.

While students are getting in their last bits of fun for the summer and parents are shopping for back-to-school, there is a lot of activity going on in Glastonbury schools, as they get ready to welcome the students back for the 2013-14 school year. Supplies by the truckload have been arriving for weeks, and many boxes are piled in hallways, waiting to be distributed to teachers' rooms.

“We're making sure that each teacher gets the items they ordered,” said Fidilina McMellon, school secretary at Buttonball Lane School, as she was busy checking items off of lists and moving some of the packages herself on Aug. 15. “Everything is clean, and some teachers are here setting up,” she said.

Teacher Jenny Custer, who is moving from third grade to second, said she actually enjoys getting everything ready during the summertime. “I do everything, from putting their names on their homework folders and their writing notebooks, to getting their reading group tags and lunch tags ready,” she said. “I've spent at least three, eight-hour days getting everything ready, but that's because I'm rather particular. Everything has to be a certain way. All of my bulletin board decorations haven't come in yet, so I haven't really worked on that yet.”

Custer said the large amount of preparation “definitely” improves the smoothness of the first day of school. “I love doing it,” she added. “I love getting all the new crayons and paper. It's like Christmas. When we first come in the door, it's like a buzz.”

Second grade-turned-kindergarten teacher Kim Dupuis at Naubuc Elementary agreed. “I haven't left since I got here weeks ago,” she joked. “You can see the buzz of teachers getting everything ready. We typically start at least a week beforehand. I started two weeks ago, because it's kindergarten, which is a different animal. Everything has to be written and laminated for them.”

Maintenance of the buildings is no small job for custodians in the summertime, as every room needs to be completely emptied, and then cleaned from top to bottom before teachers can move all of the books, furniture and other items back in.

Buttonball head custodian Daniel Posuniak said every classroom had already received the thorough treatment, and now all of the bathrooms are being completely cleaned and sanitized.

“Every single classroom, desk, wall, lighting fixture was cleaned,” said Naubuc custodian Ramon Pena, adding that the focus that day was on cleaning the cafeteria floor.

The big thing over the summer was installing security systems in all of the schools, Pena said, explaining that a card system for employees is now in place, and that parents will have to be buzzed in by office staff who can see on cameras people as they try to enter the building, as can new security guards at every school. “That's the most important thing,” he said.

Dupuis said that security measures, as well as preparation by the faculty (including who will make the coffee runs each day), are all part of making the environment safe for students. “It's a safe and positive place to come,” she said. “We believe in positive reinforcement, and children feeling safe. We do a lot of programs during the summer for kindergartners to get used to what the routine is going to be like. We get the teams together and do a lot of planning. Kids can't come in and not have structure. If they have that routine and structure, they feel safe and they feel good.”

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