Teachers stress staying positive over break

Published 9:51 pm Monday, January 1, 2018


For the Washington Daily News


As students return to school this week after Christmas break, Beaufort County educators have two pieces of advice: stay positive and enjoy the return to normalcy.

“Some people may think it’s very difficult, but a lot of my kids come back ready for a routine,” said Jennifer Walker, a kindergarten teacher at Eastern Elementary School in Washington.

Alicia Vosburgh, principal at Chocowinity Primary School, agreed with that sentiment and encouraged parents to ensure that students get a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. Public school students at all grade levels will face exams in the coming weeks, and good rest and nutrition will be a benefit at test time.

Primary school students will be taking mid-year reading and math tests in January, Walker said. The challenge for teachers, she said, is getting students ready for the tests while not putting undue pressure on them. Such pressure can increase the emotional strain students face, and young students can start down a path toward a lifetime of test anxiety if they are excessively pressured early on.

The good news is that young students often have a natural love of learning that, if encouraged, will lead to excitement rather than anxiety. The key for parents and educators is to instill that excitement.

“Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves of that,” Walker said.

At the high school level, students are still in the first semester of the school year. They will have about a week of regular classes before their final exams, Vosburgh said. It’s a challenge for teachers and students alike, because the tests come close on the heels of a long holiday break.

Many teachers would prefer to have fall semester end before Christmas break, but that would require action from the North Carolina legislature, which currently forbids schools from starting classes earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26. That timetable does not give high schools enough time to get a full semester in before January.

Vosburgh said school officials have been advocating for more flexibility in the school calendar for years, and they are hopeful to see positive change soon. Until that time comes, it’s best to focus on the positive and “enjoy the return to routine,” she said.