August 29, 2013

First day flies by for new Wayne teacher

By Susan McMillan
Staff Writer

WAYNE — As she drew nearer to the first day of school, teacher Danielle Nason started having anxiety dreams that her alarm would fail to go off, and she’d be awakened instead by a call from her school, asking where she was.

click image to enlarge

Wayne Elementary School teacher Danielle Nason helps student Elliott Desjardins with a lesson Wednesday on her first day as a teacher.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Wayne Elementary School teacher Danielle Nason asks students questions about a lesson Wednesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Just in case, she set her alarm to go off five times in quick succession starting at 4 a.m. Wednesday and wondered what her first day as a teacher would bring.

“I think I feel as prepared as I can,” the new Wayne Elementary School teacher said Monday. “Even with student teaching, you’re not there on the first day of school. I don’t remember my first day of second and third grade, so I don’t have any experience of it. I think that’s the scariest part, that you don’t really know what to expect.”

Nason, 23, graduated from the University of Maine last spring and counted herself lucky to be hired by Regional School Unit 38 in late June, after applying for about 15 jobs. She has 18 second- and third-grade students in her class at the district’s smallest school.

On Wednesday, Nason got up after the first alarm and dressed in a pink top, black pants, ballet flats and a lightweight scarf printed with elephants, not even realizing it coordinated with the jungle theme she’d used to decorate her classroom. She’d planned to wear a dress but changed her mind, because she didn’t know how much she’d be sitting on the floor.

Nason ended up not sitting much at all — on the floor, in chairs or anywhere else — until after she finished her afternoon duty of escorting students onto school buses and returned to her empty classroom to gather her things and collect her thoughts.

“I can’t believe it’s already over,” she said. “I feel like I just got here. It just goes so fast, because you’re constantly doing something.”

Nason awoke before dawn to allow time for the 90-minute drive from Brewer and because she likes to do planning work before school, when the building is quiet. She arrived at Wayne Elementary at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, a half-hour before the first students began to trickle in.

Nason took a last look around her classroom. Realizing that the other three classroom teachers weren’t in their rooms, at 7:45 a.m. she headed to the cafeteria, where arriving students eat breakfast and have morning recess.

Armed with a sheet of name tags she’d written on with a green marker, Nason stuck close to Lynnette Stinneford, who introduced Nason’s students as they approached, curious about the new teacher.

Everyone knows everyone at Wayne, which had 70 students last fall, but Stinneford was especially helpful because she taught all but two of Nason’s students in mixed-grade classes since the older ones started kindergarten three years ago.

Nason did her student teaching at Old Town Elementary School, which has about 550 students. She said she loved the experience but was glad to be working in a small school.

“It didn’t have to be just the four classrooms, but something smaller, I think, is a good way to ease into it,” she said. “I think it provides more support.”

All of Wayne’s students wore name tags Wednesday for the benefit of Principal Jeff Boston, another newcomer, who introduced himself at the morning meeting in the small atrium located in the midst of the four classrooms.

“It’s nice to have kids in the building,” Boston said. “All summer long it was just myself and the teachers. And we were sort of lonely, because you know what? It’s not school unless you guys are here. That’s what makes this whole place special, is having you guys in the building.”

(Continued on page 2)

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