Friday was a day of firsts.
It was first day of the 2008-2009 school year in Bryan County: For kindergartners, it was their first day in school; ninth graders had their first day in a new school; newly hired faculty and staff had their first official day at a new job.
For Eileen Emerson, it was her first day as assistant principal at Richmond Hill Primary School. Emerson moved from teaching at Carver Elementary School to taking on the role as assistant principal this year, after Alice Bennett retired in May.
"It’s been a fantastic first day so far," Emerson said Friday morning. "We’ve been very busy and I’m working to learn everyone’s names – we have such a large faculty here."
Over at Lanier Primary School, Principal Patti Newman said the first day was "wonderful" and going very smoothly. Bryan County High School Principal Harold Roach agreed, noting the students were all "well behaved and excited to be back at school."
"The teachers did an excellent job of helping the new students and welcoming our returning students back," Roach said. "I also want to thank the BOE and Dr. Brewer for supplying water for the students for the ride home...We are fortunate to be part of such a great school system."
Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer spent time on all nine campuses Friday morning.
"I found smiling principals and teachers everywhere. Parents and children were smiling, too," she said. "Our administrators, teachers and support staff did the hard work before the first day to ensure that parents and children had the most positive experience possible...I expect the best school year in 2008-2009 that Bryan County has ever had."
Friday was the first day for a new bus route for the K-5 complex in Richmond Hill, which Brewer said helped.
"Its purpose was to separate bus and parent traffic and I know it was effective," she said. "I was in the carline area, and one person asked where the buses were."
But Richmond Hill Police Chief Billy Reynolds said traffic on Hwy. 144 was about the same as years past.
"There’s a lot of cars going into one place at the same time," he said. "It was backed up this morning to Hwy. 17 and down to Timber Trail. As long as we can keep the regular traffic on Hwy. 144 moving, that’s our main priority."
Brewer said open house events this week all went well and were well-attended.
"Open house is a most effective tool for ensuring a successful first day," she noted. "There were few people in lines at offices in any school."
Friday, 6,604 children attended school, up from 6,349 in 2007. Last year, after the first 10 days of school, total attendance jumped from 6,349 to 6,456.
"Enrollment figures are always down on the first day," Brewer explained. "We do a head count – of attendance, not enrollment – for the first ten days to monitor potential need for additional staff and we are in good order in that regard."
Brewer sent out a big thank you to the district’s principals, teachers, staff, bus drivers and transportation staff, maintenance staff and central office staff for all they did to ensure the district had the "best first day ever."
"It is our people who build our reputation, one kind and considerate act at a time," she noted.