Two teachers at Lenoir City High School use the long summer vacation to ensure they are ready to teach when school starts. The first day of school is a lot more important than most people realize.
"The first day is kind of going to set the tone for the rest of the year," said Melanie Crook, a health sciences teacher at Lenoir City High School.
Teachers anxiously await the school bell every year on the first day.
"I really think I cried every day after school my first year and I thought, 'What have I done?' It was so hard, but I learned students need structure, and now my students are great," said Wendy Miller, another health sciences teacher at Lenoir City High School.
Miller and Crook worked right through the summer this year.
"In my free time, I'm working on curriculum, working on professional development, working on lesson plans," said Crook.
Miller said her summer was just as busy.
"A huge majority of the summer. A huge majority. Because the many of the standards we teach, I did not learn in college. A lot of it. So it's a lot of preparation on our part," said Miller.
It's not just the lesson plans teachers work on. Homey touches, like lamps and flowers, create a better environment and lab supplies enhance the learning experience. These extra touches do cost money and average the cost between Miller and Crook is almost $2,000 per year.
"Sometimes it's not all about being their teacher, but being a mentor and someone that they can go to," said Crook.
The financial burden and energy don't stop after the first day of class. Crook and Miller said several teachers in their school buy yearbooks for seniors who can't afford them or Christmas gifts for those going without.
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