Leader Blues

Monday, August 20, 2007

TOP STORY >>Teachers prepare their classrooms

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The wait is over for Cabot Public Schools as its newest elementary school is ready to welcome students Monday for the start of school.

An open house will be held from 2–3:30 p.m. Sunday at Stagecoach Elementary School at Campground and Stagecoach roads, to give students and parents a preview of the school and meet teachers.

Faculty received word Aug. 10 that their new $6.6 million school was ready for them to move in and quickly began occupying the building.

“I found out about 1 p.m. Friday that we could have the school to get moved in,” Principal Pam Waymack said Monday while giving a Leader reporter a tour of the new campus.

She credited the hard work of contractors and school custodians for the timely move.

“They’ve done a lot,” Waymack said. “Some were here at 7 a.m. on Saturday hard at work.”

Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman gave credit to the district’s construction, maintenance, custodial and technology crews for making it happen.

“This has been another very challenging summer moving Junior High North to the high school campus and getting Stagecoach ready to open,” Thurman said.

Cabot’s crews have also worked on general maintenance at all schools in the district this summer including replacing flooring in areas at Westside Elementary and Northside Elementary.

“Our directors do amazing work. L.B. Capps is in charge of maintenance and construction, Bill Holden is in charge of custodial and Kendal Wells is in charge of technology.

“These directors do great work and have great crews that work with them to make things happen for our students, teachers and community,” Thurman said.

Thurman is no stranger to a ‘ready, but not really ready’ school building as he opened Cabot High School last August without the building completely finished. He knows all too well what Waymack will have to deal with come Monday.

“Starting a new school is much like building a house and moving in for the first time,” Thurman said. “There will be things that need to be changed, things not working like they should and general maintenance items that need to be checked. It will be a continuous work in progress,” he said.

Thurman said they are also working on having the $23,000 of new playground equipment ready as quickly as possible, but “have been focused on being ready for instruction on the first day of classes.”

“The teachers have been very patient and Ms. Waymack has done a great job getting things ready to go,” Thurman added.
On Monday, about a dozen of the 30 classrooms were well underway to being transformed into creative educational environments while others still had bare walls.

“They’ve (the teachers) really worked hard to have got in on Friday (August 10) and already have so much up on the walls around the school,” Waymack said.

The teachers weren’t the only ones in the 76,395-square-foot building. Painters, electricians and school custodians were also hard at work finishing up loose ends.

Chuck Coleman with Rowe Painting was applying a second coat of paint to a classroom doorframe. Painting began the middle of May with Coleman’s three-person team – himself, his wife Kathy and their son.

According to Cole-man, second coats on doorframes, some exterior painting and finishing up in the offices once all the cabinetry was installed was all they had left to complete.

The 4,851-square-foot air-conditioned gymnasium was acting as a temporary holding area for desks, chairs and cafeteria tables until classrooms were ready for them. The 4,284-square-foot cafeteria, which has a full kitchen, was receiving a final floor waxing.

The 1,976-square-foot media center had its bookshelves lining the walls and reading tables set up around the room, but was waiting for its $70,000 in new books to be placed on the shelves. Computer instructor Pam Gray was decorating her lab room as she waited for her computers to be delivered later in the week. There will be 30 student stations in the lab.

All the classrooms are media-savvy with ceiling-mounted projectors. This new technology replaces the older overhead projectors and the PC to TV converters other schools have, Waymack said.

PC to TV converters enable teachers to show the information on their computer on the classroom television; however, the ceiling projectors are linked directly to the teacher’s computer and project that image, document or Web site onto the classroom’s dry-erase board, cutting out the need for a television in the room.

It can also be used to project an image, like a flashcard or map, onto the dry-erase board using a projector arm with a camera at the end. Stagecoach also has separate classroom areas for music, art, science, speech and gifted and talented. There is also a professional- technology center with computer access for the teachers’ use.

Many of the Stagecoach teachers were at other schools within Cabot last year; for some, this is their first year to teach or their first year in Cabot. But the general consensus among the teachers on coming to Stagecoach was one of excitement for all Stagecoach offers.

Teachers have walls full of storage space, large classrooms and brand new equipment and desks, not to mention the luxury of a brand new school. First-grade teacher Sarah Taylor came to Stagecoach from Ward Central Elementary where she had taught for the past three years.

“It’s just new,” she said in comparing the two schools; “we have more space and more storage here too,” she said.
Christy Lyons, a fourth-grade teacher, felt lucky to be at Stagecoach.

“It was well worth the wait and I am fortunate to be here,” she said. Lyons has spent the last three years as an academic coach at Northside Elementary and is very excited to be back in the classroom. “I missed the kids and was ready to get back – it’s what excites me the most,” she added.

Science teacher Peggy Self just wished she had her room completed.

“I wish I could just blink and it be done,” Self said. Excited about being at Stagecoach, she switched gears after teaching eight years at Cabot Middle School North because “it was time for a change.”

To accommodate the opening of Cabot’s newest elementary school, the district was rezoned in May to include the following attendance areas for Stagecoach Elementary:

Campground Road and the Pinewood and Autumnwood subdivisions, residents behind The Cabot Patch daycare, South Stagecoach Road up to its intersection with Honeysuckle Lane, CR 302 at Dogwood Lane, Burgess Lane at Hwy. 321, Mt. Tabor Road at Sandhill Road, and stops at the Cabot district boundary, butting up against the Carlisle, Des Arc and Lonoke school districts.