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Rome teachers say first day is great time to start building relationships with students

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Getting a free snow cone on any day is good, but getting a free snow cone on the first day of school is even better.

As part of the PBIS — Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports — program, which is a system-wide initiative, Elm Street Elementary School students were rewarded for their behavior on the first day of school for Rome City Schools with snow cones from The Treat Truck. It was this year’s kick off to the program that mainly recognizes students’ positive behavior with Wolf Bucks that students can rack up to attend special events or enter raffles with.

First-grade teacher Ashley Greenway said this year’s Elm Street students who earn enough points will get a special field trip to Ridge Ferry Park, as one of these special events.

After downing their cups of crushed ice with sugary syrup, the first-graders took to the playground to climb, run, jump and slide. Jonathan Perez, a first-grader, said it was nice to get outside and play, but, most importantly, the snow cones were the thrill of the day.

Ashleigh Tatum, also a first-grade teacher, said the first day is a great time to simply spend time getting to know students before the major curriculum push picks up. It allows the students to get to know their peers, as well as becoming acquainted with the rituals and routines of their classroom and school.

“It’s a fresh start,” said Greenway, adding that this time of year is always exciting as kids come back ready and willing to learn.

Also, this new group of first-graders will be taking the reins of Sugar Kids Beauty, which is a student-run business that sells sugar scrubs and teaches kids all the things that go into operating a business of their own.

This year, since the first grade received a $10,000 grant, Greenway said, first-graders will be setting up and running their own market where they will sell goods they make to fellow students.

Just down the road at West End Elementary, fifth-grade teacher Mandy Jackson decided that sitting through two presentations was enough for her students, and they needed to get up and do something. So, she had students divided up into groups for an activity that was an informal assessment and a way for her to get a foundational knowledge of what they know. The mini lesson had students come up with and write down the roles of teachers and students during a writer’s workshop.

The activity helps Jackson identify what she may need to bring into her lessons next week. It is also a way of teaching students about the expectations they learned about earlier in the day by stopping to tell them how to behave or participate in a certain situation, like how to act as a listener when others are giving a presentation.

Jackson taught fourth-grade last year, and this year she is excited for both her new students and some students she has taught before.