Preparing for a new school year


By Chase Jordan - [email protected]



Wilmer Luna, a fifth-grade student at Union Intermediate, and his family, is greeted by ESL teachers Glenys Estrada, far left, and Marcia Caison, second from right. He will officially begin school on Monday.


Amy Leatherwood, a fifth-grade reading teacher, prepares lesson plans before the first day of school. Unlike other classrooms with chairs, students in her classroom will sit on aerobic balls, courtesy a grant from the Simple Gifts Fund. It’s known to have several health and attention benefits.


Teacher Marsha Miller spent time alone in an empty and silent classroom on Friday. But there will be more excitement on Monday when she’s facing her students.

“It’ll be a full house,” Miller said while preparing for more than 20 children.

The math and science educator at Union Intermediate School is one of many professionals looking forward to another school year. More than 8,600 students are expected to continue or begin their education in the Sampson County Schools district.

That prospect makes many students anxious. Open house events throughout the district relieved some of the stress.

“I met a lot of them at open house and they seem to be good kids,” Miller said. “I think this is going to be a good year.”

The 2016-17 school year will be her third year of teaching. She loves being at Union Intermediate.

“We have a family atmosphere and that’s something that can’t be found at every school,” Miller said. “But here, you fit right in. We have a great staff and everybody is always willing to help you. They’re always there for whatever you need.”

During the year, Miller and her school family will incorporate a superhero theme with its reading and literacy program featuring incentives such as prizes. The school is hosting its Super Readers are Super Heroes event from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8. The event will feature refreshments, treats and drawings. It was organized by Sandra Peterson, a teacher with 43 years of experience.

“I’m just like the children, I can’t sleep the night before,” Peterson said about the first day, that comes with wonders of a new school year.

Along with leading the superhero reading program, Peterson is looking forward to incorporating technology while teaching reading, social studies, writing and spelling at Union Intermediate.

“I’m very old-school, I’m very managing and I’m very strict with rules and manners,” Peterson said about her style of teaching. “But I also like having fun and pushing students. My motto is ‘the more I learn, the more I learn how much I have to learn.’”

“I don’t think anybody can learn everything,” Peterson said while expressing her motto.

Nearby in another classroom, Anthony Butler was preparing to educate 10 exceptional children.

“That’s the reason I got into education — it was to help those that needed extra help,” Butler said about helping students with learning challenges.

Like other educators throughout Sampson County he believes it’s always exciting at the beginning of the year.

“It’s a transition,” Butler said. “You’re off for a couple of months and that’s always nice. But you have to think about getting back into the classroom. Usually about this time of year, I’m ready to come back, help and get things going. It’s always exciting.”

His EC colleague, Barbara Peterson, feels the same way.

“It’s a brand new year,” Peterson said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Wilmer Luna, a fifth-grade student at Union Intermediate, and his family, is greeted by ESL teachers Glenys Estrada, far left, and Marcia Caison, second from right. He will officially begin school on Monday.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_SCS-Return_1.jpgWilmer Luna, a fifth-grade student at Union Intermediate, and his family, is greeted by ESL teachers Glenys Estrada, far left, and Marcia Caison, second from right. He will officially begin school on Monday.

Amy Leatherwood, a fifth-grade reading teacher, prepares lesson plans before the first day of school. Unlike other classrooms with chairs, students in her classroom will sit on aerobic balls, courtesy a grant from the Simple Gifts Fund. It’s known to have several health and attention benefits.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_SCS-Return_3.jpgAmy Leatherwood, a fifth-grade reading teacher, prepares lesson plans before the first day of school. Unlike other classrooms with chairs, students in her classroom will sit on aerobic balls, courtesy a grant from the Simple Gifts Fund. It’s known to have several health and attention benefits.

By Chase Jordan

[email protected]

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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