Back to school

Good Hope Elementary third grade teacher Sara Kirkpatrick reads to her students on the first day of school.

Students in Cullman and Cullman County returned to school Wednesday morning, filling halls and classrooms while they reunited with their friends and got to know their new teachers.

For Beverly Jenkins, the new principal of Good Hope Elementary, the busy halls were a welcome change from a quiet summer of preparations for the new year.

“That’s the best part about today,” she said. “That I’m not by myself here.”

Taking over Good Hope Elementary and its 364 students meant Jenkins had some new names to learn, and she spent some of her time Wednesday getting to know the students at her new school.

“It was really nice today to have the students come because I’ve been here this summer working and preparing and seeing names,” she said. “And I got to put faces to those names and get to meet with all those grades, and the students were attentive and participated in all the activities I did with them.”

The theme for this year at Good Hope Elementary is “You’ve got a friend at Good Hope Elementary,” and the school’s Toy Story-themed hallways are meant to be a reminder to students to be supportive and caring to one another.

Students will be divided into groups called Ready Raider Groups that they will meet in for advising, and students who go the extra mile for one another can be called into the office for a positive referral and rewards that include a congratulatory phone call to the student’s parents, Jenkins said.

This year is Jenkins’ first year as a principal, but she has plenty of experience in the Cullman County School System, as she spent 23 years at West Point before spending the last year as an assistant principal at Vinemont Elementary School.

The transition to a new school and new position came with some jitters, but Jenkins said everyone she works with has been supportive of her move.

“I’m nervous, but once I got here and things started happening, I wasn’t as nervous anymore,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of support from everyone here, all of the teachers, staff, our board member and the central office, and they’ve made the transition go really smoothly.”

Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 138.

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