When Bay County students and teachers begin the 2009-2010 school year, they'll be dealing with some major changes. This February, school board members voted to close or re-purpose a number of area schools to save money. Thursday, about 1,500 teachers and administrators packed the Marina Civic Center for their first in-service of the year.
Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt says, "With the economy being so tough and so many things that we've had to do in the district, closing schools and everything, we just wanted to bring the teachers back and tell them we appreciate them."
Past graduates and families addressed the group, telling the teachers how they have shaped their lives. Organizers also updated the educators on changes in the school dress code, by way of a fashion show. Teachers say they have been prepping all summer for class to start.
Bay Haven teacher Jennifer Milli says, "I'm looking forward to the challenge of teaching in an FCAT year." New teachers face a different type of challenge. Linda Warren, who is a new teacher at Hiland Park Elementary School, says, "The first day of school, is like not only will the children have first-day jitters, I will, too."
Nerves aside, some students say they're ready for that bell to ring. Fourth grader Tanner McDonald says, "I like doing the math, and on the playground, and I like writing stories." Superintendent Husfelt says this is the most appropriate way to start the school year: "I had goosebumps this morning when it first started, because so many people, you could just feel the excitement building."
Teachers agree, saying events like this assembly help the district succeed. Warren says, "It's a great profession. I'm proud to be able to say I'm a teacher."
Bay District schools serve about 25,000 students across the county.