MEA members reflect on first week of school

Schools across Michigan reopened their doors last week for the new school year — one filled with numerous possibilities, challenges and opportunities.

Here’s what some MEA members had to say about their experiences during first week of school:

Kerri Major, teacher in Davison Community Schools: ”My daughter has always hated math and been very disorganized. I was very scared about how middle school was going to start for her. She has been put in a math intervention class that she actually loves. As a result of this special teacher’s care and welcoming attitude, she now looks forward to school and doesn’t even dislike math!”

Brenda Bressler, teacher in the Huron School District: “As a middle school music teacher, my most rewarding moment is that time in which my beginning band students make their first sound and realize they CAN do it!”

Keith Klann, teacher in Dowagiac Union Schools: “A sibling of a former student came in the first day and said, ‘My sister said you are the best math teacher ever, and you are already my favorite!’”

Robin Adkins-Fettes, education support professional in Hazel Park Schools: “Just being back with the kids is the best.”

Jim Allen, teacher in the Lansing School District: “A former student sent me a text. She is auditioning for a choral group at college and she thanked me for making her audition for the spring musical in her senior year. It gave her the confidence to do the audition.”

Kimberly Van Dam, teacher in the Anchor Bay School District: ”When my almost 5-year-old tells ME on HER first day of kindergarten with a huge smile, ‘You’re going to have such a fun day mamma’ — if I didn’t have tears already, I did then. She doesn’t know that she inspired me to get into the ‘back to school groove’ to go meet my incoming fifth-graders with the same radiant smile she left me with.”

Amy Cottingham, teacher in Bridgman Public Schools: ”One of my girls came to me right before we went to lunch, gave me a hug, and said she was going to miss me tomorrow. I said, ‘But tomorrow’s Saturday.’ She looked at me and replied, ‘I know, and I’m going to miss you on Saturday!’”

Stacey Olsen, teacher in Birmingham Public Schools: ”I don’t have one particular moment to share, but more of an overall feeling. My students have been so positive and optimistic this week, and it has helped me build up a fire for the year. Reading and experiencing all of the political difficulties in education was getting me down, but the energy from my students reminds me why I do this job. It is all about the kids!”

Jen Rowe, teacher in the Ludington Area School District: “Our community voted through a very hefty technology bond last year, and today we got to hand hundreds of iPads to our students to take home. It was a great day all around, but the best moments were when those students who have never held their own electronic device were given this amazing tool. Their eyes lit up and it seemed as though a whole new world appeared in front of them. We do have a significant free and reduced lunch population, so there are many families who wouldn’t have had this opportunity otherwise. We’re so lucky to live in a community that puts kids first during such a tough time for education.”

Sue Krekeler, teacher in Livonia Public Schools: ”I turned a corner in my school and saw a student from last year. He called my name, opened his arms, gave me a bear hug and grinned like crazy. Best kind of paycheck.”

Grace VanDuinen, ESP in Grand Rapids Public Schools: ”I work as a secretary in a K-8 environmental-themed school. We have a ‘tree’ in our lobby that the PTA decorates seasonally. Before our open house, it was decorated with school supplies. When our students and parents came in that night, one student said to his mom, ‘See, mom — school supplies DO grow on trees!’”