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Teachers prepare their classrooms for students (w/video)

By Natassia Bonyanpour
Aug. 21, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.
Updated Aug. 21, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.

James Garcia prepares his classroom at O'Connor Elementary.  Video by Natassia Bonyanpour for The Victoria Advocate

School begins Monday, but the hallways inside O'Connor Elementary School are anything but quiet.

Teachers can be found throughout the school, most standing on chairs hanging eye-catching decorations outside their classrooms.

Inside one particular room, lead second-grade teacher James Garcia hums to music while steadily working away.

"I am always nervous." Garcia said. "Although I've been a teacher for 13 years, I always worry about the first day."

For the last month, Garcia and several other teachers have juggled daily mandatory workshops and setting up classrooms.

"I started coming on Aug. 1," he said. "They had not even turned on the air. It was hard working without it for a couple days."

Special education teacher Megan Homerstad also put in several hours designing her classroom. She said she has used money from her own pocket to enhance the look of her room.

"We try to reuse borders but we also try to buy new, fresh things," she said. "We only get $150 on reimbursement for classroom supplies, so we do spend a lot of our own money."

Garcia said he has also bought supplies - more than $400 worth so far - to ensure his classroom creates a great environment.

"Yesterday alone, I spent $80 at the dollar store," he said. " I like to buy things that are more aesthetically pleasing but also sometimes they are out of pencils or need notebooks."

Garcia and Homerstad said they try to construct a fun and bright atmosphere within the walls of their classrooms.

"I like to make things that are interesting," Homerstad said as she pointed to an activity board. "I want to make things that will interest kids, that will catch their attention."

School secretary Dolores Rios, who is completing her 25th year at O'Connor, said every year teachers give their all to make sure they are ready for students.

"At the end of each school year everything is boxed," Rios said. "So they actually have to come and start all over."

As for teachers, Garcia said they meet occasionally to share techniques and make suggestions.

"All the teachers meet and give one another ideas," he said. "We all work really hard together."

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