Greensville County Public Schools (GCPS) BIG YELLOW BUSES are on the move again! And since I hate getting up early, the bus left me. Wyatt Middle School (WMS) was my first stop. Upon my arrival, I asked to speak to the principal. The front office staff instructed me to go down this long hallway and out the door where the buses unload. As I walked down the hall, there stands Ms. Kayla McBeth and Ms. Teresa Bullock. Almost simultaneously, when asked how they are feeling about starting a new school year, they responded, “Excited and ready. WE BELIEVE.” They were very willing to show their excitement and readiness by taking the time to pose for a picture.
At the bus stop, the new WMS principal, Dr. Marcus Carey, stands along with local law enforcement officers greeting students as they got off the bus. City Sheriff Prince pause to speak to Kalli Barbour as she gets off the bus with a smile on her face. Mrs. Corina Carden and her son Bradley stop to talk to Carey before entering the building. Bradley is smiling and waving.
Instead of trying to find out if this was the right school for me to attend, I asked why officers were at the bus stop greeting students. Carey replied, “Allowing them to see the officers in a different capacity is one way to bridge the gap between students and law enforcement.” . Carey also stated, “It is important to build positive relationships with all our stakeholders in the community, especially parents. One of my goals is to implement a plan at Wyatt that includes door to door visits. My staff and I will deliver personal messages encouraging parental involvement. We want all the parents to feel welcome anytime they enter the doors of E. W. Wyatt Middle School. We must work together to assure their child’s success.” When asked why he wanted to join the team at Greensville County Public Schools Carey eagerly said to give back to my hometown. Carey attended Southampton Public Schools but thought of Emporia/Greensville as home. “It is my home.” Working to help our youth be successful in their educational endeavors is a crucial component of why Carey is an educator. He wants to inspire his students to strive for excellence!
Talking with Carey piqued my interest to find out more about this young man. So, what school I should attend was placed on the back burner and time was spent talking to WMS new principal. Carey comes to the Greensville County Public Schools system from Chaloner Middle School, Roanoke Rapids, N.C., where he was the principal and director of ACES. Carey graduated from Southampton Public Schools. He received a B.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Masters and Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Virginia State University. Carey has 22 years of experience working in education. He was very anxious to get started for the day and agreed we could talk later.
After gathering information about Carey, there was no one for me to ask if I was at the right school. Greensville Elementary School (GES) was right across the street, so I decided to check that out. There were parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles anxiously waiting to leave their preschoolers. Some of the adults seemed to be more nervous than the children. One great-grandparent expressed that she did not know what she is going to do. Bus driver, Rev. Dr. Veronica Leach, had parked her bus and is giving her students a review of rules and expectations. Rev. Kelsey Moore comes out of the front door preparing to greet students as they enter to wait for the first bell that rings at 8:10 a.m. Mrs. Rasheeda Hargrove, the GSPS Teacher of the Year, walks up, arms loaded on the way to her classroom. “I am excited and ready” are the words Hargrove used to describe her feelings about the first day of school. Once I stopped chatting with Hargrove and walked around the corner, there stands preschool teachers Ms. Brenda Harrell, Mrs. Tonya Prince and Mrs. Meg Lumpkin, waiting patiently and confident that this will be a great school year.
Suddenly, a bus door opens, and out comes the students. You look, and there is a student who looks like they may be on the wrong bus, then you realize that it is none other than superintendent, Dr. Superintendent Kim Evans, who decided to begin her first day of school by riding the bus! She exists with a cheerful smile holding the hands of a student.
Everyone was so excited and cheerful at GES! It seemed like a good idea to just skip school and check out the happenings at the other schools.
Upon arriving at Belfield Elementary School (BES), it is evident that I missed all the fun of observing parents, teachers, and students. There were no school buses unloading students, students waiting to enter the school or nervous and anxious parents.
I had spent too much time having fun observing the first day of school at GES, that I missed the opening bell at BES. Ms. Daughtry, who works in BES math lab and Mr. Liggins, Keyboard Instructor, stood outside to greet latecomers. Liggins and Daughtry shared that BES is a one-grade school, and they look forward to seeing new faces each year. Just as I am about to leave, outcomes Mrs. Kimberly Walton, a BES parent.
When asked how she felt about her child going from GES to BES, she replied, “I believe in progress and my child going to BES is progress.” Walton also shared that her daughter was a little nervous and stated, “but she will be OK.”
My school visits would not be complete without visiting the campus of the “Mighty Eagles.” Greensville County High School (GCHS) Assistant. Principal, Mr. Kane, Officer Day, and coach Mario Walton stand watching as the students depart on the bus. Mr. Andre Ellis, the school security officer and Co-Director of the band, said “This was one of the best first days of school. He also indicated that students appeared excited to be back at school. . Kane commented, “fantastic day!” Students came dressed for success. Not once did I see a student that I had to tell to pull their pants up.” Mr. Ross, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT,) commented, “Good day. Children at both schools seem happy about being here today. Really good day!” GCHS Principal Mrs. Lemeka Harrison’s comments focused on the Theme “Reflections of Campus Excellence” and supported the staff’s comments by saying, “Opening day was great!” Harrison, this year, grade level class meetings were held today, and she believes these meetings made a significant difference. GCHS staff ended their day with a brief session in the gym.
During that staff meeting Mrs. Ruby Allen, athletic director at the high school, proudly announced that all except two of her students were present. This was a perfect opportunity for a staff photo.
Well, I never found out which school has my name on the class roll, but I sure had a GREAT TIME visiting each school!