GENEVA – Heartland Elementary School students won’t start school until next week, but first-grade teacher Margaret Morrison already is ready for them.
Morrison has spent the summer getting prepared for the first day of school on Aug. 20.
Geneva School District 304, St. Charles School District 303, Kaneland School District 304, West Aurora School District 129 and Central School District 301 start school Aug. 20. Batavia School District 101 starts school Monday.
“I never take the summer off,” Morrison said. “I don’t shut the door at the first of June and say goodbye until school starts. If you are not here working, you are reading new material and preparing your curriculum for the year. With the new Common Core curriculum, it does take a lot of preparation.”
That’s been her summer routine for many years. Morrison, 53, has taught at Heartland for 10 years and previously taught in Tennessee for 11 years.
She took some time off from teaching to raise a family.
As she prepares for school to start this year, Morrison also recently saw her oldest son, William, off to college. Morrison said she realizes she doesn’t have to work during the summer. Geneva teachers aren’t required to report to school until Monday, two days before students arrive.
“It is up to the individual teacher,” she said. “Nobody monitors if you are coming or going. You don’t get paid any more. I feel better when I’m prepared, so when the children get here, my time will be spent on them.”
Fortunately, she happens to live in Geneva near the school.
Morrison said she enjoys the convenience of being able to drop by the school whenever she wants.
Along with preparing for the new school year, Morrison has spent part of the summer tutoring students.
“You want to make sure their skills are fresh and do not regress over the summer,” Morrison said. “Sometimes, they need a little boost.”
Despite the demands of being a first-grade teacher, Morrison said it is a job she loves. She said “the rewards far outweigh the demands.”
“It is so rewarding seeing the growth they attained,” she said. “I can’t imagine anything that is more rewarding.”
Fellow Heartland first-grade teacher Deidra Cook spent some of her summer moving her classroom.
She recently was in her new classroom making sure that everything was in place for the arrival of her students.
She had to move a few classrooms down from her previous classroom to make way for a kindergarten class, a process that was time-consuming.
“Everything had to be picked up,” Cook said. “I was packing everything up as soon as school was over in June.”
During the summer, Cook said she also worked on projects that she didn’t have time for during the school year, such as creating math centers for her students. Cook knew exactly what tasks she wanted to take on.
“I made a list during the school year of things I would like to get to,” she said.
But she didn’t spend all of the summer in her classroom. Cook also was able to spend time with her family. She said she usually would come in one day a week during the summer.
Cook said she looks forward for the new school year to begin.
“I’m ready to start,” she said. “When August comes, I’m ready to get back.”