Education column: Faculty, staff gearing up for school year

Every year we begin school with a bang. Communications fly back and forth, all departments shift into high gear and, as far as staff is concerned, we are about to experience the payoff of careful and thorough long-term planning. Even though teachers officially started back this past Monday, many have been coming in for weeks, getting their classrooms ready for students.

Beginning the school year on a strong, positive note is important for staff, students and parents alike, particularly as this year we will likely experience the economic crunch currently felt by most Americans. Educators are a rare breed, however, and always manage to find ways to reach kids, regardless of circumstances.

Currently, in addition to the wealth of information flowing out from schools to parents, there are many useful websites with back-to-school info. USA.gov offers tips (http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Back_to_School.shtml#For_Parents) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offer information at http://www.nasponline.org/resources/home_school/b2shandout.aspx.

Other sites that include all sorts of tips are from Family Education at http://school.familyeducation.com/back-to-school/school/34528.html, and Kathy Schrock’s Discovery Education (http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/edres.html) is loaded with back-to-school resources. The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides a variety of health-related info at http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx.

Thinking about back-to-school support and information, we at the Clovis Schools would also like to take this opportunity to thank the community of Clovis for all the support and help offered to the district in many different ways throughout the school year. One particularly noteworthy gesture consistently offered at the beginning of each school year is the wonderful luncheon prepared for all Clovis Municipal School employees by Central Baptist Church here in Clovis on one of the first few days when everyone returns.

After just having read the gracious invitation letter from Alan McAlister, senior pastor, included in our CMS staff “Welcome Back” packet, I was able to track down one of the original initiators of this annual event, who happens to be a retired Clovis teacher. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised a teacher is involved in all of this.

Anne Linville, veteran teacher for 34 years, first in North Carolina, with the bulk of her years spent at CMS’s Sandia Elementary as a second-grade teacher, shared the story. Sixteen years ago, Linville — together with the Youth Director at the time, Joe Luscombe — began this wonderful tradition of feeding all returning Clovis employees as an outreach ministry to say thank you to the schools. That first year they fed 580 employees, and since that time the attendees for the luncheon have numbered about 700. Linville said Melody Rikel, food services director for Central Baptist, takes care of the food, along with help from about 75 volunteers who show up to serve, clean up and do whatever needs to be done. Amazingly, Linville said she never has to ask for volunteers. The sign-up sheets are put out, and they simply fill up.

It’s a very special way to begin a school year, when you think about it: Sitting down to share a meal with 700 of your family members.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org