Lining up for the first big day
By John Chambless
At 8:00 on Monday morning, David Hamburg, the principal at the Jordan Bank Kindergarten Center in Oxford, was in place for the first day of school.
Hamburg, who is starting his fourth year as the principal at Jordan Bank, said he enjoys standing by the buses and greeting kindergarteners as they step off. “It's great to have the kids come back,” he said. “You get to see so much growth in the kids. This is where I really enjoy my time. It doesn't feel like work.”
Students across southern Chester County started classes on Aug. 25, but for the youngest – many of whom may never have been away from mom and dad for a whole school day – the morning can be especially significant. Taking that first step into 12 years of school and beyond can be scary for children and parents alike.
“I find that the parents are the ones who need some help,” Hamburg said with a smile. “I was talking to my own mom last night about my first day of nursery school, and how the teachers had to peel me off of her,” he said, laughing.
At Jordan Bank, parents are allowed to walk their children to class for the first week if they want. But by the second week, kids say goodbye at the front door as they get more confident. On Monday morning, parents lingered outside the fence by the playground at Jordan Bank, snapping photos and waving as their children had their nametags read and they lined up by classroom on the playground.
Aides smiled and greeted each little student as they followed a line of bumblebees painted on the pavement from the sidewalk to the door of the school. Concentrating on following the path, the boys and girls – neatly dressed in cartoon character clothing and wearing brand-new backpacks – were ushered in behind their classmates.
First-time bus riders were carefully accounted for, and warm smiles and hugs from the Jordan Bank aides put aside the jitters. Nobody cried, “which is a good start,” Hamburg said with a grin. Parents, of course, might have been a diferent story.
After all the students walked single-file into school, parents were invited to a “Boo-Hoo Whoo-Hoo Breakfast” in the cafeteria at 8:40 a.m. “We give them tissues, and Hershey Hugs and Kisses,” Hamburg said.
He has learned how parents feel recently, as he dropped off his own children, ages 3 and 6, for their own milestone school years. “Usually I'm standing on the other side of the gate and watching the parents cling to the gate,” he said. “Now I know how they feel.”
Hamburg met parents and shook hands as moms and dads lined up for breakfast treats and a chance to review the morning's photos of their little ones, laughing and showing off their favorite snapshots. Elsewhere in the building, their children were taking off their backpacks, finding their cubbies, and taking the first steps to a lifetime of learning.
And, after a few sniffles from the parents, everyone seemed OK with that.