By Indiana Nash
NISKAYUNA — Well before the leaves have a chance to start changing, bright yellow buses begin rattling down the neighborhoods of Niskayuna, picking
up young students for their first day in the classroom.
For most students, the first day back is exciting, if not a bit exhausting.
But for teachers, it’s a different whirlwind of activities.
Especially for new teachers or, in Shannon Thompson’s case, new library media specialists.
Thompson is the newest member of the Rosendale Elementary School faculty and even though this isn’t her first year teaching, she said she was still feeling
anxious about the first day.
“I’m nervous and excited to meet all my new students,” Thompson said.
At Chester Andover Elementary in Vermont, where she previously taught, her classes combined different grade levels.
Now at Rosendale, her classes will be separated into only one grade level at a time.
Thompson has been working on redesigning and further organizing her “classroom,” also known as the library. Over the summer she designed a website
just for the Rosendale school’s library. (:https://sites.google.com/niskyschools.org/rosendale-library)
She also added a few creative touches to the physical library by making new section signs and other decorations.
While education is always changing, Thompson said that over the last few years the role of a school’s library specialist has become more steeped in teaching
kids how to use new technology for honing their research skills and for stretching their creative muscles.
This year, she is hoping to include green screen technology in her lessons with students.
Thompson says it’s a great tool to have students work with because it allows them to be creative in a way they might not have been exposed to in the past.
But to start with on the first day, Thompson said that she will be focusing on getting those jitters out of the way.
“I’ll have the students play ice breaker games about what they’ve done over the summer so that they’re more comfortable with each other,” Thompson said.
Down the hall from Rosendale’s library are the classrooms of Sue O’Connell and Mary Neufeld.
For Neufeld, this will be her 32nd year of teaching.
“Even after all that time, I’m so excited. It amazes me that it’s still as exciting. But for me, it’s easy to come back,” Neufeld said.
O’Connell agrees, saying the only thing she is ever really anxious about at the start of the year is the need to get the skills and the information to her students
in the most effective manner.
“Third grade is the year that students are encouraged to become more independent,” O’Connell said.
But this challenge is not daunting for either teacher. It’s simply something that they’re continually trying to rise up and meet.