Teachers Return, Reunite

Teachers at Maude Moore Wood collaborate
By: Todd Martin
Across the Killeen Independent School District, about 3,000 teachers and other campus staff members returned to school Monday to reflect, reconnect and prepare for new students and a new school year.
In the front hallway at Maude Moore Wood Elementary School as staff members watched a welcome video, administrators huddled outside the library like athletes prepping to take the field.
Upon entering, Wood Elementary School Principal Norma Baker took a microphone and expressed to assembled staff members excitement to open a new building and the deep call to embrace students’ varied learning needs.
To the north, new Principal Ashley York welcomed her staff at Nolan Middle School and led them in games to begin a transitioning year, the last for the 59-year-old school as construction continues on a new middle school set to open next year with the same name.
Just south of town, Killeen High School staff members met at a retreat center, where they played carnival games while piecing together words to form an acronym to describe the school’s mission.
At all the schools, educators took time to remember why they chose to enter the teaching field.
“Know your purpose,” Baker said, explaining to her staff the importance of reviewing why they teach. She also urged teachers “to be present,” making every moment in the classroom a valued time of learning.
Part of the new school’s uniqueness is its flexible seating furniture that provides students a choice for their style of chair, including some that move or change form. Flexible seating, she said, is part of a collaborative environment that stresses working together in teams.
Killeen High Principal Kara Trevino said the special day included welcoming educators back, reconnecting with each other and embracing new staff. “That’s something that has remained constant,” she said. “We are a family.”
In discussing their “why,” the KHS staff members shared personal stories revealing a desire to serve others, to safeguard America’s future, to be an example that students can relate to, to follow a calling and to make a lasting difference.
Shortened versions of teachers’ purposes, written on notecards, will greet KHS students when they return in two weeks.
In contrast to the new school, Nolan staff members embraced a final year in a historic building with trucks, hard hats and construction tape serving as decoration. “The road to success is always under construction,” York said, explaining the school’s theme for the year.
“We want to make sure our kids have the best last year they can and that they have the tools they need to be successful,” she said.
In coming days, teachers will comb through performance data and work in grade-level and content-area professional learning groups to plan lessons and prepare their classrooms for Meet the Teacher on August 22 and the first day of school August 26.
“I’m excited to come back,” said third-grade teacher Estella Gomez, a three-year teacher at East Ward Elementary School now at Maude Moore Wood. “I’m hopeful for all our students, including those coming here from East Ward. We want them to grow a love for learning.”