Teacher's first day

Northwest Middle School teachers write subjects they would like to discuss during an afternoon session on school culture on their first day back, Thursday.

Thursday was the official day back to school for about 3,800 teachers with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, but some of them at Northwest Middle School have been in and out of the school in recent days preparing for the new school year.

“It’s extremely exciting to prepare for our Northwest family to come back,” said Alfreda Smith, the principal of Northwest Middle. “Some individuals might think that there’s a lot of downtime in the summer, but there’s really not because you are preparing for a whole lot.”

She said that administrators’ jobs include preparing schedules, sixth-grade orientation and open house as well as hiring people, and making sure the school is ready when school opens on Aug. 26.

The first day back for teachers at Northwest Middle included a meet and greet event.

“What I’ve noticed is that sometimes when they come back, the teachers just want time to socialize and to talk,” Smith said. “They just want to tell their stories from the summertime.”

This is the first year Destiny Mims, a recent graduate of Salem College, will be a teacher in the school district.

Her room is pretty much set up for students, including a multi-colored “Welcome To Our Classroom” banner on the door and a bulletin board aimed at inspiring students with the quotes “Believe you can & you will” and “The future of this world is in my classroom.”

“I don’t think it will change much, at least in the first two weeks,” said Mims, a sixth-grade math teacher.

She knows the layout at Northwest Middle because she was a student teacher in spring 2019 and had an internship in fall 2018 at the school.

“I’m a little nervous to interact with the students, but I’m not nervous about being here,” Mims said. “I know I have support.”

She and John Maniscalco, an exceptional children teacher, will co-teach, in the same classroom.

Five of Maniscalco’s 17 years as a teacher have been at Northwest Middle.

He said he tried to milk all he could out of his summer break to the very end, and now feels rested and ready to go.

He said he has been teaching for a long time, but there is always a bit of apprehension as he goes into a new school year, especially with new students and parents.

“Every year it’s different,” Maniscalco said.

Kathleen Thompson, a sixth-grade science teacher, said this is the first year she has not come in early as she has in the past to get her classroom ready.

“But I’ve dropped stuff off that I’ve gotten over the summer like games and restocking my bins for the kids,” Thompson said.

She said that a lot of students don’t come to class with the school supplies they need.

Thompson, who has been teaching for 24 years, has been a “traditional teacher” for 14 years with WS/FCS.

She said that she likes to have fun in her class and doesn’t have a set routine at the start of the school year because it's best to consider the size of a class and the individual needs of students.

Holly Hodges, who is starting her 13th year as a teacher in the district, is still trying to turn her classroom into a home for students with posters, books and figurines.

As a sixth-grade English language/arts teacher, she likes for students to want to come back to her classroom.

“One of my theories is if I put as much of myself into my room, such as my geeky, nerdy superheroes, then they are eager to see me, make a relationship with me,” Hodges said. “They want to come talk to me about the next Marvel movie.”

Every year, it is her hope, Hodges said, for her students “to become better readers, writers, thinkers, and above all, human beings.”

On Thursday, Dana Moore brought along her 7-year-old daughter Isabella and 8-year-old son Kerian for company as she organized her eight-grade English language/arts class.

Of her 22 years as a teacher, 10 of them have been with WS/FCS.

“I like to make sure my room is organized, welcoming and bright, so the kids know where everything goes,” Moore said, as she put sticky notepads in a pink container.

She said she also wants to be ready for parents because the eight-grade open house is on Tuesday.

Teachers said they are excited about having Angela Pringle named the new superintendent for the school system. Pringle will join the school district Sept. 3 from Richmond County School System in Augusta, Ga., where she is currently that district’s superintendent.

“I’m excited about hearing her viewpoints on her goals and expectations, and how things will be different,” Moore said.

Hodges said that based on the video she saw of Pringle’s introduction to the community, “I appreciated the fact, as a female, to see another female step into that role and to see a person of color, to see the diversity that we see in our classroom.”

Mims, who used to live in Augusta, Ga., joked that Pringle must be following her because Pringle took the helm at Richmond County School System her junior year in high school in 2014.

“I think it’s cool that she’ll be here,” Mims said.

Maniscalco said it’s going to be interesting to have Pringle on board at WS/FCS.

“I think she’s the second female (superintendent) that we’ve had, and we’ve had so many male superintendents,” he said. “I’m curious to see how her interpretation on things is.”

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