EASLEY — It’s the time of year that kids dread and parents love: the end of summer vacation.
Although students didn’t head back to the classrooms until Tuesday, many teachers had long since returned to their classrooms making sure everything was just perfect for the big day.
“The last day of summer vacation is kind of like Christmas Eve,” said Donna Mansell, family liaison for McKissick Elementary School. “It’s exciting. You have to get everything ready for the kids in the morning. I can’t wait.”
Besides getting her room ready, as the social worker for McKissick, Mansell has also been gathering donated school supplies to make sure every student is equipped for the new school year.
“I gave this one little boy a backpack and he started to cry, because he never had one before,” she said. “But you know, it seems like a little thing, but you give a child a backpack with notebook paper and pencils inside and they feel ready to come back to school. It’s important.”
Janna Epting, who teaches second grade at McKissick, has been working on her classroom all summer.
“I’ve been here awhile. I tend to spend a lot of time in here to try and make sure everything’s perfect. Like this bookshelf, I built this bookshelf,” she said and laughed, gesturing to the bright red piece painted like a ladybug. “And see the spots? They’re chalkboard paint so the kids can write on the dots.”
When asked if she was prepared for the first day, Epting didn’t hesitate: “Very. I’ve reached this happy-place-zen-mode where I’m like, I’m ready, let’s do this!”
Further down the hall, third-grade teacher Caroline Smith was also putting last-minute touches on her classroom.
“It’s my third year teaching here, but I didn’t always have this room. Last year was my first year in here and look! It’s garden themed! I always wanted a garden themed classroom,” Smith bubbled.
Before it was Smith’s classroom, it was her mother’s, who taught at McKissick for 34 years.
“My mom is Rene Sardinas and she taught American history so her room was all red, white and blue. That’s not really my thing so I painted some of her stuff like the shelves green and hot pink and blue,” she said.
Smith said with the help of her mother and her husband, it only took about three hours to set up her room.
“I’m set for 25 but I’ll only have 21 kids this year,” she said. “And it helped that this was my room last year so I didn’t have to completely start from scratch. Some of the things on the shelves I took home over the summer and I covered the bookcases with paper so everything wouldn’t get all dusty but the stuff on the walls? I left all that. Still, without the help it probably would have taken me around nine hours to get everything ready.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.