Teachers, students say goodbye as year ends

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — McLaurin Elementary School teacher Shanieka Christmas told herself she wouldn’t cry on the last day of school.

But when she started talking about Nicholas Giles and his academic improvements she couldn’t hold back the tears.

“Sometimes you get students who don’t know the basics,” Christmas said Monday. “He came to me lacking, but over the course of the year he has improved to the point that I know he has the skills he needs to maintain in math.

“As long as he continues to study, I know he will do well because he is a good student.”

Giles, 9, said this year has been exciting.

“I learned how to do fractions, multiply two digit numbers by two digit numbers and do English,” Giles said.

“When I didn’t know how to multiply, she taught me how, and now I know how.”

Teriyonna Hendricks, 10, who is soon to be a fifth grader, said she was excited and sad about leaving McLaurin.

“I’m excited because I’ll be going to Morgantown (Elementary School),” Hendricks said. “But I’m sad because I don’t want to leave McLaurin, and I’m going to miss my teachers.

“Mrs. (Judy) Johnson and Ms. Christmas have been the best teachers I’ve had since I’ve been in school.”

Over the summer, Hendricks said she would probably help her grandmother with her two dogs, a Pomeranian and a rat terrier.

“They love for me to rub their bellies, and they watch out for me and my grandma,” she said. “They love to play, and they make me laugh.”

Ryan Drummy, 11, on the other hand, said he’d be spending the summer outside.

“I’ll be outside when I’m not doing chores,” Drummy said. “I’ll be playing basketball.”

Morgantown Principal Fred Marsalis understands the need to play over the summer, but he also urges children to keep up on their reading.

“I know the Judge Armstrong Library has excellent programs,” Marsalis said. “I have talked to parents, encouraging them to have their children read.

“Hopefully parents will encourage their students to read and participate in a program that will be academically enriching.”

Marsalis said the teachers and administrators will also be asked to keep up with their studies. The district is hosting the Southwest Mississippi Educators Conference, which is a professional development program, from June 1-3.

“I am encouraging all to go,” Marsalis said. “It will hopefully be exciting.”

Marsalis said other than attendance being low, the last day of school went well.

“We are all outside now,” he said. “Everybody is going out with our students to see them off.”

Because she is moving to Hattiesburg with her future husband, Christmas, who is getting married on June 19, won’t be coming back to work in the Natchez-Adams School District next year.

“This was a great school to work at in the district,” Christmas said. “I’ll miss my co-workers, the administration, the students and everyone else.”

Fellow-fourth grade teacher Shevawn McLain is also moving to another district due to marriage.

“This was my third year at McLaurin,” McLain said. “I’m going to miss the students that always made me laugh and smile.

“I’m going to miss my co-workers too, and McLaurin has a good administrative team.”

Marsalis said he had faith the McLaurin staff had prepared his incoming fifth graders.

“About three weeks ago we bussed them over for an orientation,” Marsalis said.

”They seem to be a very interesting group.

“I’m exciting about them coming.”

All area schools will be closed by Wednesday afternoon.

Adams County Christian School and all Concordia Parish schools closed last week. Cathedral School’s last day is today, and Trinity Episcopal Day School’s last day is Wednesday.