Fresno Unified Teachers Prepare for First Day of School

August 16, 2013 2:57:59 PM PDT
Teachers in the state's fourth largest school district, Fresno Unified, headed back to their classrooms Friday to prepare for the return of nearly 73,000 students next week. With just days left to prepare, some got an extra day to learn new teaching tools.

It's a new chapter for Fresno Unified and it has teachers singing praises of the new program.

"Fresno Unified really is on the cutting edge of early learning. I know that we're being looked at nationally about how this program is going to work and I can tell you we're just so excited about having the privilege to make student's lives brighter," said new preschool teacher Karina Lara.

When students return to class Monday, they'll be joined by nearly 1,500 new preschoolers and over the last two days, the district has been preparing for their arrival by training teachers with new curriculum and strategies to keep students engaged.

"Everyone is excited because we brought on 18 new teachers, preschools are being opened up in classrooms they haven't been before and so we're serving way more students," said Early Learning Instructional Coach Claudia Read-Wright. "We're going through their entire curriculum, engagement strategies, checking for understanding, how to get oral language out to the students and to go back and train their assistants."

Karina Lara is one of the new teachers hired during the program's expansion. She said after going through the training, she feels better prepared to handle new students in a new classroom at Thomas Elementary.

"When you step into an early training it's not typical, you hear a lot of songs, laughs, so I'm really filling my tool box with a lot of songs and a lot of hands-on things that will help me in the classroom," said Lara.

She's not the only teacher looking forward to starting a new year. Educators like Dan Branham are moving their belongings into newly constructed classrooms at Fresno high.

"It's really exciting, I've worked at Fresno High for over 20 years and to have an opportunity to be a teacher moving into this new building for the first time is really fantastic," said Branham.

Teachers at both schools said they plan to work through the weekend to get their classrooms organized and ready for students to learn.


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