Principal, children help prepare school for first day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; Cleaning, moving, re-arranging, scheduling and entertaining her children were all things Darla Johnston was doing Sunday at Vidalia Upper Elementary School.

Why was she there on a Sunday?

Because the empty, deserted halls of Sunday will become filled, gradually, by week’s end.

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Today, teachers will be arriving to start working on their classrooms.

And Friday is a teacher’s meeting where this second-year principal will go over procedures with them &045; lesson plans and the like &045; before open house Friday afternoon.

Parents and students will bombard the halls from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, getting to know their teachers, getting supply lists, bringing supplies early and becoming acquainted with things before school starts Monday, Aug. 18.

Johnston, now working in the building where she once &uot;walked the halls&uot; as a student, is ready to start school.

&uot;We had a really good year last year,&uot; Johnston said. And she is welcoming back those same great teachers this year.

In fact, Johnston made special buckets full of supplies for the teachers Sunday. But she was not without help.

Her 4-year-old daughter Madison and 7-year-old son Nicholas were there to lend a hand.

Though Nicholas lost interest quickly, Madison took over, finishing the buckets by herself.

That is not why the children really came. While mom is working to get things ready, these kids come and have a good time, riding their bikes along the sidewalk in front of the school.

They do not have sidewalks at their house and not much room to ride, so they enjoy coming to the school as they have many times this summer.

They call it &uot;fun,&uot; while Johnston sees it as a good way to spend time with her children while getting work done as well.

And it is work that she loves.

She has worked as an educator for 15 years, all of them in Concordia Parish &045;in Ferriday and Vidalia. She taught fifth grade math and science.

For someone who just fell into education, needing desperately to change her major from one she dreaded &045; accounting. With the then random selection of education, she found a major that turned into a career she loves.

&uot;I like working with the parents and teachers,&uot; Johnston said. &uot;I still miss the kids, so I try to get in the classroom when I can.&uot;

In administration, Johnston said she feels she is &uot;making their whole educational experience worthwhile. Whereas I used to touch about 50 kids, now I touch almost 400.&uot;