Teachers predict positive school integration

Mecklenburg County’s teachers have worked hard the past two weeks in preparation for the 2022-2023 school year. After Labor Day, they returned to finalize their classrooms and host student orientations from 5p.m. to 7p.m. all week long.

Mecklenburg’s middle and high school students returned with a staggered start Monday, September 12. Sixth, Eleventh, and Twelfth graders returned in-person Monday while the rest had a virtual day, and Seventh, Eight, Ninth, and Tenth graders returned Tuesday while the former had a virtual day. All students reported to school on Wednesday.

In interviews taken before the start of school, teachers discussed some of the challenges they’ve faced thus far and how they think student transitions and integration will go.

Most teachers agreed that one of the biggest challenges so far has been the physical move from one school to another. Some—such as Mike Jancart, one of the art teachers—have had to move nearly an entire classroom from one school to another. He shared, “it took me a couple days to move everything, but it’s been good. All the maintenance guys were very cool about moving stuff.”

Melissa Bland, the Business & Economics Teacher, seconded that other staff and workers have been extremely helpful in moving. “It went better than I expected because there were so many workers to help move your equipment…they brought them in and it was easy to access them and put things away.”

Thankfully, the teachers who have needed the most storage have been blessed with more than enough space and cabinetry. Jancart added, “we probably need more stuff for day-to-day like student storage, but as far as for the materials we have, it’s been really good. I have enough room that I think…we can make room.”

The second largest challenge for teachers has been learning their way around the enormous school building. Crista Moody, a Biology teacher, said, “the hardest thing has been remembering which way to go for wherever you want to go. It’s going to take everybody a bit before they stop getting lost.”

However, after a few weeks everyone will get the hang of it. “What’s funny about it is the more I walk around, the more I realize this isn’t that complicated. It just feels like it because it’s so big,” Jancart confirmed. Mecklenburg’s forethought of color-coding the hallways may also help to expedite the process.

The teachers also shared that behind the scenes their teamwork has been going well. Rene Jarman from the high school’s Special Education department stated that everybody in her department has been wonderful; “it makes it a lot easier when you have great coworkers. I can honestly say in our little area right here they’re all awesome.”

The English department’s Camecia Thomas agreed, and shared that the, “English department has meshed really well. We had been working together before…so we were familiar with each other. Once we got here it’s gotten even better; we’re working really well together, and I think we’re going to be a really strong team.”

Thomas, who also works as the High School’s Cheer Coach, stated that she’s already seen that same cooperation between the students as well. “I’ve been working with the girls and guy ever since May. I’ve gotten used to both Park View and Bluestone working together and it’s been a joy to see them—how they mesh together, and how they’ve grown together into this cheerhood.”

She later stated that she believes the students who have been working together over the summer—such as band, the football team, cheer team, and golf team—will serve as a shining example and set the tone for this year’s student body.

Mecklenburg’s teachers agree that once the students come together, they’ll have a smooth transition. Jarman said that the kids will do great, especially since the teachers will all be here to help them.

“Even if there are growing pains, it’s all going to work out in the end,” Moody stated.