Children weren’t the only ones excited Monday about the first day of school.
Parents and teachers said they were happy to be back, as was Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Raquel Reedy, for whom a visit to Mitchell Elementary School was something of a homecoming.
“Parents are very glad the first day of school is here,” said Chelsea Hartshorn, who was waiting with her children in the schoolyard outside Mitchell Elementary in the minutes before classes got underway.
“It makes it easier when there’s something for them to do, but they’re also back to learning, which is always good,” said Hartshorn, who works as a low-voltage electrician.
Her son, Jude Archuleta, a 9-year-old fourth grader, said, “I’m kind of glad to be back, but I miss the summer.” His brother, 7-year-old second grader Jack Archuleta, agreed. “I’m kind of excited, but not the most excited that I’ve ever been.”
Cassie Burton said she was excited about the first day of school and having all three of her children in one place at the same time “and back to learning.”
A full-time working mom, who coordinates programs and grants for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Burton said her kids were kept busy with different activities during the summer, involving a lot of shuttling and drop-offs. “This makes it so much easier. It’s good all around.”
It’s certainly good for 10-year-old fifth grader Brodie Burton, who said he “won’t miss summer,” and he “likes everything” about school. Eight-year-old sister Mackinzie Burton, who is entering third grade, said she’s “happy to be back” and looks forward to math. But first grader Logan Burton, 6, was a bit equivocal, wishing that the summer “was a little longer.”
For fifth grade teacher Lisa Tschida, “summers are nice, but I need something to do,” she said. “I need a schedule, I need to get back into a routine. New school year, new kids. It’s fun.”
For APS Superintendent Reedy, “It’s exactly as exciting for me as it is for the kids,” she said. “I remember when I was a kid and waking up several times in the middle of the night, and I still do the same thing because the first day of school is really a very special day and it sets the tone for the rest of the school year.”
The first day of school for most of APS’ 143 schools and most of its nearly 82,000 students was Monday.
Reedy said she chose to visit Mitchell Elementary because it’s familiar turf – she was principal there for 13 years and the school imparts a sense of belonging and connections among students, parents and teachers.
Another connection was made by current principal Ana Sanchez.
“My dad’s first year teaching, he was the PE coach here and he was the youngest one on staff. My mom, who worked in APS Human Resources, was pregnant with me, and the staff at Mitchell had a baby shower for my dad. So when I became principal at Mitchell, he was really excited.”
Then there’s the connection with current PE teacher, Jason Domina, whose eldest son was a first grader at Mitchell during Reedy’s last year as principal. “He’s a sophomore in college now,” Domina said.
Entering a first grade class where Reedy was to read a book and hand out copies to each student, the APS superintendent was greeted with a hug by teacher Delise Hoy. Reedy told the roughly 30 students that she was the principal at Mitchell when Hoy began teaching.
These connections may seem like six degrees of separation – the idea that all people are six social connections or chains of acquaintance away from each other.
“At Mitchell, it’s more like two degrees of separation,” Sanchez said.