What it’s Like to Be the New Kid in School
by Nora Dwyer
August 23, 2019

Ready or not, it’s back to school! But what if you are new in the district or you might be in a new building, as is the case with many students this year?

Growing up, my family moved a lot. My father was a journeyman electrician, so he went to where he could find work. By the time I hit seventh grade, I had lived in New York, Oregon, Colorado, and Illinois. Those are the places I remember at least.

Transition and change are part of all our lives, but this year, the school district is seeing a lot, says Becky Wichers, Director of Teaching and Learning for the Muscatine Community School District (MCSD). The major changes include Colorado becoming the new Early Learning Center, leaving six elementary schools (Franklin, Grant, Madison, McKinley, Mulberry, and Jefferson) for kindergarten through sixth grades. West and Central Middle Schools will house seventh and eighth graders this year, with Central slated to close at the end of this year.

A full picture of how many new students are in the district will be available after Labor Day, Wichers says. “We are constantly monitoring enrollment as we get registrations, but sometimes we have families move in last minute or realize a family that we had planned to be in the district has moved,” she stated.

To help connect students to their schools and teachers, a variety of programs have been implemented. The objective of all these programs is to make, “the home to school connection,” says Wichers. “We are hoping to provide a mix of support to help students transition better from grade to grade and from building to building.”

Despite the variety of programs available, there is still stress on students and families who are new. Among my brothers and I, we each handled the transitions differently, which if you have multiple children starting a new school, can be even more difficult for a family.

Some kids try to find their niche early. Others go the opposite way and might act out or rebel during the first few weeks. Some students will stay under the radar and just try to survive the gauntlet of walking into school and finding their classroom. An open house for both middle schools and the high school was hosted on August 20th in an attempt to alleviate some of those issues, says Wichers.

She also encourages families who suspect their children are having difficulty to reach out for help sooner rather than later. Wichers recommends elementary students’ families talk to their classroom teacher first, middle school families start with the teacher of the subject that is causing the student trouble or guidance counselor, and for high school parents speak with the student’s guidance counselor.

At the end of the day, we hope that new families in Muscatine will say, “it’s nice to be home.” Let’s all do our best to make that happen sooner rather than later for all the new kids on the block.

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