School doesn”t start until Wednesday, but there”s already movement in the Columbus Municipal School District.
Fifth-grade teachers are moving into 18 newly constructed classrooms at Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School, Sale Elementary International Studies Magnet School and Stokes-Beard Elementary Technology and Communication Magnet School, as the fifth grade relocates from Hunt Intermediate.
Sixth-grade students will remain at Hunt, while seventh- and eighth-graders sit tight at Lee Middle School through Christmas break. The new $19 million Columbus Middle School on Highway 373 is expected to be ready for sixth, seventh and eighth grades following winter vacation.
Melissa McKinney, a nine-year CMSD veteran, didn”t have far to travel during her transition from fourth-grade teacher to fifth grade at Sale. Although her brand-new room was just down the hall from her old digs, she still had to move more than 100 boxes.
“I”ve been here since Monday rearranging, moving, unpacking,” she said Friday from her new room.
Luckily, McKinney”s new room comes with plenty of cabinet and counter space, which she says will help.
“I think it”s giving students an atmosphere that”s conducive to learning because they”ll be able to focus,” she said.
Judy Sanderson, who has 11 years with the district, had to travel a little farther, but she”s just as ready for her new students. Sanderson had taught fifth grade at Hunt before being transferred to fourth grade at Sale. She didn”t get a new room but she still got a bigger room, and she”s ready to get back to work.
“I think it”s going to be fun. I”m excited about the opportunity to move. I”ve been looking over the benchmarks I have to reach (for fourth grade) and they”re not a whole lot different from fifth grade,” said Sanderson.
She”s especially excited about immersing herself in the international studies aspect of life at Sale. Sanderson and colleagues from Sale recently returned from Austin, Texas, where they underwent training through the International Baccalaureate, or IB, program. Sale remains an “international studies” school until it receives IB certification. Sale Principal Nancy Bragg says the IB authorization team is expected to visit the school Nov. 15 and 16.
“It encourages children to ask questions and find their own answers using different research methods,” said Sanderson, describing the program. “It puts a lot of responsibility on the students. They go in depth in different areas.”
Chenata Ward, entering her 11th year with CMSD, is making the jump from Hunt to Cook. She also recently returned from magnet training June 18-22 in Meridian.
“We learned how to integrate the arts into the curriculum. For instance, we used dance to teach translations,” she said. “I”m excited because we can bring in new ideas besides just sticking to the textbook.”
Ward is anticipating 22 fifth-graders this year at Cook, and says her transition has been smooth. She says the learning will be going both ways when school begins Wednesday.
“I might be the one who does the reacting. The kids are already here so they”re used to the magnet school,” she said.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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