Houston County Goes Back to School

8:58 AM, Aug 2, 2013   |    comments
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The wheels on Houston County buses stopped at school Thursday morning.

Bonaire Elementary Principal Willis Jones says the first day of school comes early, and it tends to be crazy.

"The first day, especially at an elementary school, is always chaotic," said Jones. "We have Pre-K. We have students as young as four years old."

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One of those young students is Torah Reynolds. Her father, Master Sergeant Willie Reynolds, says his daughter was anxious to start school.

"She tossed and turned and just thought about the next day," said Reynolds.

Torah isn't alone. Her school system is also blazing a new trail.

Beth McLaughlin works for Houston County Schools. She says the county's gifted program is different this year.

"This year we've started GTE, Gifted and Talented Education Program," said McLaughlin. "Our gifted children go to a gifted program every day of the week."

That's up from one day a week in previous years. Third grader Ayden Walker is gifted. He's looking forward to his new schedule.

"I was ready for school to start," said Walker.

Drew James is the daughter of 13WMAZ's Marvin James. Drew is also in GTE. As a fifth grader, she has some perspective.

"I'm looking forward to the fun year and helping the younger kids and watching the other kids grow up," said James.

Second grade gifted teacher, Brenda Mueller, is used to teaching kids like Ayden and Drew once a week. This year, she'll combine a regular lesson plan with a gifted one.

"We have about eight hours of things to teach in less than six," said Mueller.

Every lesson she teaches this year will be crucial. Four more days with her students should mean more learning for her and the kids.

"Which enables me to get to know them better, learn their needs better, and push them further in the areas that they need that little push in."

Mueller won't be alone.

"This is a year of change for all of us, and it'll be exciting."

Even with the changes, today is just the first of 180 days of learning.

"I see them smiling, they're giving me high fives, I'm welcoming them back, and then, it's just another year," said Jones.

Principal Jones has worked at Bonaire Elementary for four years.
He says today's enrollment of 744 students was the largest he's seen in his time at the school.

Another new Houston County plan for this year, called bring your own device, allows students to bring smartphones and tablets to class.

Follow videojournalist Wes Blankenship on twitter: @Wes_nship

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