ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - This Thursday, the school bell will ring, signaling the end of summer break for tens of thousands of South Mississippi children. The days leading up to the first day of school are usually hectic for teachers. They are busy this week preparing to welcome students back to class.
Music teacher Jay Rustin is giving guitars and other instruments a much-needed tune-up. And this year, he'll rely on a bunch of beanie toys to show his students how to keep a steady beat.
"Oh, teachers are super pumped about school. You can hardly wait to come back and try those new ideas out and see how the kids react to them," said Rustin.
Preparing for a new school year at St. Martin East Elementary usually begins in early June. Rachel Broussard is starting her 25th year as a teacher and every first day of school is a whole new experience.
"I'm so excited! I get so excited every year just like the students and I can't sleep. The night before school, I'm just like a child," said Broussard.
As they countdown to opening day, there are still desks to arrange, bulletin boards to decorate and lesson plans to organize.
Teachers are also attending training workshops to get some fresh, creative ideas to motivate their students.
"There just never seems to be enough time to prepare everything you want to prepare for the students so that everything is perfect in the room. You've got furniture to move and clean, you've got visual aids to put on your wall. You've got folders to prepare," said Rustin.
"Whenever a kid comes through our doors in the morning, the front door, we want it to be the most exciting thing they've ever seen. That first day of school, we want them to be excited to be here, excited to learn, and ready to come back the next day," said St. Martin East Principal Nannette Whitehead.
With that much preparation and high expectations, the new school year should start off on the right note.
"Yes, I'm ready," said Broussard.
"Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it. I can hardly wait," said Rustin.
"Every year, I'm so excited to start the new year and see those kids come in here, and I want them to know we're ready for them," said Whitehead.
While more than a dozen school districts across South Mississippi will start this Thursday, Moss Point, Gulfport and Ocean Springs schools will open next week.