Today is day of firsts at Woodlawn Elementary

August 10, 2004|HERB BROCK

The first day of classes at Woodlawn Elementary School today was the first page of new chapters in the lives of Jerry Naylor, Robin Foster and Sharon Crews.

Jerry, the 6-year-old son of Gerald and Sandy Naylor of Parksville Crosspike, was beginning his life as an elementary school student. He started the first grade today.

Foster, a December 2003 graduate of the University of Kentucky and a 1998 graduate of Danville High School, was beginning her career as a classroom teacher. She started that career in a 24-student fifth-grade classroom today.

Crews, a former principal at Peaks Mill Elementary School and assistant principal at Bondurant Elementary School in the Franklin County school district, and a 15-year teacher in the Woodford County school system, was beginning her stint as principal at Woodlawn. She started in her office, the school lobby and all 25 homerooms today.


All three newcomers - a new student, a new teacher and a new principal - were in the beginnings of different stages of their lives, but all shared the same emotions - a combination of first-day jitters and excitement.

The youngest of the newcomers is actually the most veteran

Actually, the veteran of the trio of newcomers was little Jerry. Although he was starting the first grade, he actually had been at Woodlawn before. His mother said her only child learned to enjoy math in kindergarten. She learned a lesson, too - get to the Boyle County school complex, which includes the high school and middle school as well as Woodlawn, as early as possible.

"Last school year I started coming here at a little after 8 (a.m.) and it was like being in the middle of the Brickyard 400," said Naylor, who arrived about 7 a.m. today and became the first parent parked in the complex.

"After being almost rear-ended three times the first day I parked here, I learned to come here earlier," she said. "You have to dodge cars, a lot of them doing U-turns, and also kids who'll hop out of a car and run through the traffic."

Meanwhile, Jerry was anxious to get his new show on the road. Wearing a NASCAR cap and fiddling with a lunch bag made in the shape of a racing car, he rolled down the driver's side window and stuck his head out the door to look and see if any classmates were going into the school. For a better view, the young man, whose dream is to be a NASCAR driver, would sit on ledge of the door, patting the top of the car and waving his red and white cap as if he were taking a victory lap.

"I'd like summer to last a few more days, but I'm ready to go to school. I'm kind of excited," he said.

"Yeah, you're excited to see that little girlfriend of yours, Courtney," said his mother, triggering a giggle from Jerry and a guffaw from his grandmother, Wanda Boyd, who was sitting in the back seat.

Naylor, who attended Woodlawn herself, on her way to earning a diploma from Boyle County High School in 1990 and a career today as a pharmacy technician at CVS in Danville, said she had mixed emotions about her lone child going to school full-time now.

"I know this day means he's going on to a new part of his life. We're both saying good-bye to one part of his life, but we're also excited about this new stage," she said.

Foster is excited about entering the new stage in her life. One of the first teachers to arrive this morning at Woodlawn, she was carrying two large plastic bags full of balloons on her way to her classroom.

"I'm a little nervous, but more than anything, I'm excited about starting my career as a teacher," said Foster. "I'm all ready for the year to start.

"Student teaching was great preparation, but today begins the real experience as a teacher, and I'm looking forward to it, and I hope my students are as well," she said. "It's great to be really teaching."

A quick detour to Crews' office

On her way to her classroom, Foster made a quick detour, turning left and entering the school office to see Crews. They exchanged words of encouragement.

While Crews has more than two decades as a teacher, assistant principal and principal under her belt, she also was experiencing first-day nervousness.

"I've been a principal and a teacher, but this is a new position and a new place," said Crews, who, like all other staff and faculty, was wearing a gray and green Woodlawn sweatshirt and a welcoming smile.

Crews said her goal for the day was to welcome as many students and parents as she could before the first bell and then visit all 25 homerooms and offer official greetings to the more than 600 students under her charge.

"Several of these students, particularly the first-graders, and some of the faculty will be new. I know it will be a first day for me," she said. "For a lot of us, it's not just the first day of a new school year. It's the first day of a new part of our lives."

And because they all arrived early, it looked like Crews, Foster and Jerry were all eager to get started on writing those first pages of the new chapters in their lives.

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