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First-year teacher says goodbye to first class
Students, parents give Nix an A on 1st year
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Staci Nix, first-grade teacher, gets a hug goodbye Thursday from student Sammy Hartman on the last day of school at the World Language Academy. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

First impressions

An occasional series following first-year teacher Staci Nix as she navigates her new profession, teaching first-graders at World Language Academy.

The coffeepot can be put away for the summer.

Staci Nix has finished her first year in the classroom at World Language Academy as the final bell for the summer rang Thursday afternoon for Hall County Schools.

But saying goodbye to the children she’s gotten to know over the last 180 days was bittersweet.

She feels a connection with her students that she will have to reconstruct with another group of first-graders at the end of the summer.

Though the memories, she said, won’t end with the school year.

“They’re always going to be my first class, my first group of kids,” said Nix. “I learned with them as they were learning with me. It was just a neat experience to learn together and I couldn’t have had a better class my first year.”

Nix will spend her final two days (today and Monday) attending meetings, completing paperwork and taking down the remnants of the 2011-12 school year from her classroom walls.

As the children began to file out with their parents after ice cream on Thursday, she had a brief chance to look back on the school year and, like the last day of school, it was a quick blur.

“I can’t believe the first year is over,” said Nix. “It flew by — every bit of it. We’ve had fun. I’ve had an amazing class. I was really blessed with an awesome group of kids this year.”

And her students, and their parents, give the first-year teacher an “A” for her first go in her own classroom.

“I think she’s done wonderfully — as good as you could possibly do the first year,” said Alicia Nelson, mother of Jack Nelson, a first-grader at WLA. “She’s been very open and calm with the kids, supportive and loving, and they’ve loved her back.”

Her son, she says, does not talk about school very much, but has liked having Nix as a teacher.

“I can’t get anything out of him, but when he does, he’s never had anything negative to say about Ms. Nix,” said Nelson. “He’s enjoyed being in her class. He thinks she’s sweet and pretty, he told me.”

But as a parent, it’s important to trust the person educating your child. And it’s even more important to have open lines of communication with that teacher.

Nix, says Nelson, has done just that.

“Email is a great tool that she uses and she’s always quick to respond,” said Nelson. “She’s had an open-door policy so we can come be in the classroom whenever we want to visit with them or sit with them.”

As the year comes to a close, though, Nix is faced with the reality that another first-grade class will soon be running around her room, and she will have another year of getting to know personalities and learning habits.

That challenge, however, she looks forward to.

“It’s excitement,” said Nix. “I like a challenge and I like new things and that doesn’t scare me — that’s fun. Of course I’m nervous because I have to learn a whole new group of kids again, but that’s a challenge and it’s exciting to me.”

And she’s already planning what she can do better next year, although she knows she’ll have to mold plans to fit her class’ personality.

“I think I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on that this year, but I feel like I’ll be able to fine-tune it a little more next year,” said Nix. “But then again, what worked for this group may not work for that group. I can have these ideas in my mind, but that could all go out the door when I get the new group of kids.”

She will just have to wait until the fall to find out.

But if it was up to her first class, Nix wouldn’t have to worry about that — she would just stay with them.

“She’s really fun and I know I’m going to miss her,” said Isabella Jahnke, one of Nix’s first-graders. “I really wish she was our second-grade teacher.”

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