Students in 4 counties head back to school

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News 12 First at Five / Friday, Aug. 2, 2013

Back to school

WARRENTON, Ga. (WRDW) -- It was back to school today for four counties in our area.

Students in Warren, Washington, Wilkes and Jenkins counties said goodbye to summer and hello to their brand new teachers. News 12 was at Freeman Elementary in Warren County to see what teachers and students have planned for the new year.

It's a new desk, a new class and a new teacher for Keristen Johnson.

"The most amazing part is I get to learn," she said.

It's her first day of third grade and she says, "I like my teacher and my class."

And she's excited to be back because according to her, "I get to really have fun with my friends and really do my schoolwork and really focus on my work so I can go to the next grade."

And she's not the only one. Ta'Khia Reese couldn't wait for her first day of fifth grade.

"My favorite part about coming back is just being with other teachers and just making it to the next grade," she said.

But a new year brings new challenges for both students and teachers.

Danelle Griffin, a third grade teacher at Freeman Elementary, says, "We have to prepare them for everything."

It's the second year Griffin will be teaching the Common Core curriculum.

"Just getting the kids to understand and be ready for the challenge with the Common Core, and it's more rigorous than the GPS was," Griffin said.

Principal Kathy Hinesley told us, "We have a new math curriculum that we're starting this year that we are very excited about. It has a really good online component to it that really engages our students."

Hinesley has her challenges as well, like keeping up with technology.

"The key component with that in reality though is we know the kids know how to use it, we just have to put the right things in front of them," she said.

This year, the pre-K and special education students got new smart boards and iPads.

Hinesley says they really try hard to stay current with all of the technology in order to give the best education to students like Keristen, who has big plans for her future.

She says she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up -- after she finishes the third grade, of course.

Friday wasn't the first day of school for staff. Teachers in Warren County started Monday, and in reality, they've been in and out of their classrooms all summer preparing for the year.

There are also some changes from the Georgia legislature this year that will also be affecting schools. There will be state instead of nationwide testing this year and a new teacher evaluation program.

Most schools start next week. For a list of start dates, you can check our our Back-to-School page here.

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