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Parents, students converge on school open houses
Stilson Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Rebekah Bentley, right, tells Hector Hernandez, 10,that she'll see him again on the first day of school Wednesday after a visit during Monday's open house.

    The first day of school isn’t until Wednesday, but thousands of parents and children went to schools throughout Bulloch County on Monday.
    What drew them were open houses, which allow teachers and administrators to meet parents and tell them what they can expect in the new school year. Open houses also give parents the chance to see the classrooms in which their children will spend the better part of the next nine months.
    At Stilson Elementary School, many parents and teachers already know each other. For example, Shae Jeffers, who has taught prekindergarten there for seven years, chatted with a parent for more than a half-hour.
    “We pretty much are a family group, and it’s pretty stable,” Principal Pam Goodman said. “We do actually have three new faculty members on staff and one new staff member this year. But pretty much these teachers have been here – a lot of them have had their children come through here, and some of them themselves have come through Stilson Elementary School.”
    But there are some new faces at the close-knit school, too – starting with Goodman herself, sort of. Goodman, a 13-year veteran of Bulloch County Schools, served as assistant principal for both Nevils and Stilson elementary schools for four years, as well as assistant principal at Nevils alone. Last year, she was the assistant principal at Julia P. Bryant Elementary.
    “I was here as a half-time (assistant principal) previously, but this is my first opportunity to be here as the principal,” Goodman said. “So I am looking forward to working with the faculty and staff and with the parents and the students to have a great school year.”
    In Jeffers’ and kindergarten teacher Leigh Baker’s classrooms, children explored the toy kitchen and refrigerator areas while their parents asked questions and were briefed by the teachers and paraprofessionals on such things as lunch, nap time and what will be taught.
    Fifth-grade teacher Rebekah Bentley is one of Stilson’s new additions. This is the Georgia Southern University graduate’s first full-time job after she taught as a long-term substitute for second-graders in Cobb County last school year.
    She said she is eager to have her own class to teach and that the community has warmly welcomed her.
    “I’m really excited about the content in fifth grade. They learn a lot of interesting things,” Bentley said. “I was just telling a parent that the first thing they start off with in social studies is Civil War. And so I am excited about teaching about slavery, and I think that’s something that kids find interesting, and there’ll be a lot of good activities that we’ll be able to conduct in the classroom to help them.”
    Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

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