By a href=””/a a href=””Julie Finley/a The Natchez

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006


Julie Finley

The Natchez Democrat NATCHEZ &8212; No pressure. It&8217;s just kindergarten. &8220;This is different from where you have been before boys and girls,&8221; said Alice Jackson, kindergarten teacher. &8220;You are getting into what we call the big leagues now. And you know what that means, more learning.&8221; And more rules. No running. Raise your hand before you speak. Don&8217;t lean on the wall. Keep your hands to yourself. Don&8217;t block another teacher&8217;s doorway. Boys, when we go to the bathroom we always aim. Don&8217;t carry your lunch tray above your head. Don&8217;t get up and walk around the lunchroom. Lunch trays must slide on the rail. Sit on the carpet squares. Always stop at the corners. When one person is getting water the others stop a step behind them. No fighting. No pushing. Listen to adults. Push in your chair. The rules alone were enough to make some brand new kindergarteners at West Primary panic. And that&8217;s just what Shek&8217;nah Hoskins did. When the new kindergartner realized mom was actually going to leave her in rule world, she ran. Out Jackson&8217;s door she went, down the long West Primary hallway and to the double doors at the end that exit to freedom. But they were too heavy and mom was only steps behind. Plan B &8212; tears. The sobs, clinging and panicked look bought Shek&8217;nah a few hours. Mom pulled up a spot next to the carpet and stayed long enough to hear Jackson&8217;s full list of rules. Be respectful. Be responsible. Keep your hands, feet and object to yourself. Raise your hand. Follow the directions of adults. &8220;The first two weeks of school we are going to talk about these rules every day,&8221; Jackson said. &8220;You have got to learn them. We want our classroom to run smoothly and we want everybody to learn, and in order to do that we need to follow these rules.&8221; But Jackson will make it worth their while, she told the group of 21 that grew to 22 by 10 a.m. Rewards based on a behavior-tracking chart will include stickers, praise and notes to parents to tell them how good children are doing. They&8217;ll get some healthy snacks, and if things go well all year there are parties at the end. But rule breakers face consequences, she said, including time out, parent notification, a trip to the guidance counselor and finally a trip to the principal&8217;s office. Rules are a necessary part of the first day of school, West Primary teachers said, but there was room for hugs, kisses and comforting words too. Parents are allowed to stay with their children all day if necessary, Principal Cindy Idom said. Teachers take it slow, reading stories about kindergarten and taking long building tours. Students won&8217;t go to special classes like PE and music until next week, and no one expects them to learn all the rules on the first day. &8220;We&8217;ll just keep reminding them every day, throughout the day&8221; kindergarten teacher Connie Fleming said. Teacher Kit Spears said the hardest rule to grasp will be raise your hand before speaking. &8220;We are starting with a blank slate,&8221; she said. All Natchez-Adams public schools started Monday. Other area schools will start in the next week and a half.

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