EVERETT — On a sunny Wednesday morning, teachers and paraeducators at Whittier Elementary lined up by the school’s front doors, eagerly awaiting their chance to greet their incoming students.
“It’s just good to see faces back and halls filled,” Assistant Principal Eric Jennings said. “It’s always good to see teachers do what they do best.”
Kids slowly began filing in with their fresh new backpacks, lunchboxes and hairdos. Teachers gave out hugs and high-fives as they walked underneath a Disney-themed sign above the door: “Have a Magical Day.”
Tony Wentworth welcomed a larger-than-usual cohort of new educators at Whittier. The north Everett school’s principal said this is the highest turnover he has seen in his 11 years, partly due to an increase in teacher retirements.
In February, the board of Everett Public Schools approved a blueprint that would slash up to 140 jobs in the district to satisfy a nearly $28 million deficit.
At another entrance to Whittier, parents hugged their kids goodbye as they lined up by grade on the playground. Students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, filled the asphalt basketball court with laughter and excitement as their teachers took the first attendance of the year.
“We have great support,” second-year Whittier teacher Suzie Lavis said. “The staff is so positive, and we have a wonderful class.”
While elementary students learn the foundations of reading, writing and math, Whittier educators are also focused on teaching beginning social skills to carry into the real world.
“It’s a community in the classroom,” Wentworth said. “Each small one is interconnected with each other that creates a school culture. At the core of it, learning is the most important, but there are so many other things that support making sure it’s a meaningful experience.”
Students around the county also started class Wednesday in these districts:
• Edmonds School District
• Granite Falls School District
• Index School District
• Lake Stevens School District
• Monroe School District
• Mukilteo School District
• Northshore School District
• Snohomish School District
• Stanwood-Camano School District
• Sultan School District
Classes in the Darrington School District start next week, on Sept. 12. Lakewood School District opened doors Tuesday. And the Marysville and Arlington school districts began classes last month.