Grab your pencils, calculators, backpacks and lunches - Brazos County Public Schools start a brand new year Monday.
The final days of summer are winding down; district officials say 11,000 students are expected to start hitting the books in the College Station School District beginning Monday. And over the last few weeks teachers have been hard at work preparing their classrooms and curriculum for the big day.
“It still feels like the teacher is just letting me write on the blackboard for fun,” laughed Jodie Smith, who begins her first day of school Monday as an A&M Consolidated High School Senior English teacher.
Writing her name on the dry erase board for the first time is something 26-year-old Jodie Smith has been anticipating -- she admits -- even before graduating high school.
“I've always wanted to come back and be on the other side of things,” Smith said.
Hard work in college paid off, and now -- Smith is not only on the other side -- she's teaching inside the same high school she graduated from in 2004.
“When I got the call that there was a spot open I dropped everything to get here,” Smith explained. “I do think that coming from this school and then also being my age definitely is going to help because I've been able to think a lot about what it was like when I was in their seat, rather than standing in front of the room.”
Teachers in both Bryan and College Station ISD have been taking advantage of the quiet halls and empty classrooms - as they prepare for a busy school year ahead.
“We’ve definitely been putting the hours in to make sure everything is perfect for the first day making copies, getting lesson plans done, getting my room straight and organizing it," said Smith.
Monday morning marks the first day of school -- where Smith will begin teaching English to an estimated 140 students per day.
"At Consol we excel so much at testing that it's easy to miss what they struggle with," said Smith. "We're definitely trying to look at what they're lagging in and we've consecutively decided that writing is definitely something that we're really pushing this year."
So much so, the English department is revamping their curriculum to better prepare the students for college and even the workforce.
“I want my students to know that things in here are going to be tough and the expectations are always going to be set higher than where they're at so they still have to reach for something,” said Smith. "When you're in college you have to be independent, so they're going to experience that as well so that when they get into college or the work force, they won't be shocked."
While it will be a year of firsts, Smith knows it will be a challenging one; but a challenge, nonetheless, she says she's more than ready to take on.
“I'm the most worried about discipline,” added Smith. “People have been teasing me because most of my students will be taller than I am, so I hope that when I tell them they're doing their assignment, they'll listen.”