It was an emotional moment for kindergarten parents at Monta Loma Elementary when the 8:30 bell rang and their kids filtered into three classrooms for the first day of school Monday.
Some parents followed their children inside to stick around a little longer, while others peered in through the windows. All of them were reluctant to head over to the multipurpose room, where coffee, snacks and Monta Loma Principal Angela Lyon awaited them.
"You're the most precious parents in the world," Lyon said to the parents. "You're in very good hands at Monta Loma."
The first day of school kicked off for Mountain View Whisman School District on Monday, Aug. 18, and it marks a special moment for kindergartners and their parents, said Monta Loma parent and PTA member Priscila Bogdanic.
"There's a lot of 'letting go' when they go into a classroom with people they don't know," Bogdanic said. "They're not babies anymore."
Bogdanic was in the multipurpose room that morning, handing out invitations to the Monta Loma PTA and helping parents with their questions. She has two kids who went through kindergarten at Monta Loma, and said both times were just as emotional for her.
It might not always be as emotional for the kindergartners, though. A number of kids had no trouble leaving their parents' side and jumping on the kindergarten playground. Bogdanic said if the kids have older siblings or went through preschool and daycare prior to the first day of school, they'll have an easier time making the transition.
That seemed to be the case for Monta Loma parent Katie Purcell, who stood outside Mrs. Fox's kindergarten classroom after class had started. She said her daughter Daisy had been to preschool, and didn't have any trouble with separation anxiety or getting used to the classroom setting.
The school district put an extra emphasis on getting parents and students accustomed to where things are on the campuses, and answering any questions they might have. Bogdanic said she is one of the district's new "school and community engagement facilitators," who serve as a "liaison between students, staff and parents to remove barriers to improve student learning and achievement," according to the district's job description.
On the first day of school, that translates into helping confused parents and students find their way around campus, explaining any paperwork they might need to fill out, and otherwise helping with logistical problems.
Bogdanic said as one of the facilitators, her job is to reach out and "enhance" parent participation," and prior to the first day of school she helped organize an event to have 200 families of incoming sixth-graders at Crittenden Middle School come out and meet one another.
Measure G paying off at middle schools
Less than a mile away from Monta Loma, 600 Crittenden Middle School students started the year with fancy new classrooms and a few tech upgrades.
Crittenden Principal Geoffrey Chang said about 80 percent of the campus has been updated since last year, with a few interesting perks to the new classrooms. Improvements include more whiteboard space that goes from the floor to the ceiling along one, sometimes two, walls of the classroom.
Chang said there's also a new speaker set-up in the classrooms that allows teachers to hook up microphones and talk to students more easily through the use of speakers. He said it's still early in the school year and teachers haven't been formally trained on how to use the sound systems, but he's heard positive feedback from teachers who no longer have to constantly project their voice during class time.
"I've been told that it makes you less tired by the end of the day," Chang said.
The school district upgraded middle school classrooms and other facilities over the summer, mostly through Measure G funds. Passed in 2012, the $198 million bond measure will generate revenue to repair, upgrade and expand facilities at all nine of the district campuses.
And there are more improvements still to come. Next summer the district will construct a new library and a broadcast studio at the Crittenden campus, and is slated to break ground on a new auditorium, a new track and a new synthetic soccer field in 2015.