Clay County students head back in school

Students, parents build anticipation for first day of classes

LAKE ASBURY, Fla. – It's time for more local students to begin a new school year as Clay County schools are back in session Tuesday.

There is so much anticipation that comes along with the first day of school. Students and parents had the chance to visit the schools Monday for orientation, meet their teachers and get acquainted and Tuesday morning, they'll all be showing up for the real deal.

IMAGES:  Back-to-school slideshow

The first day of school is always exciting, but a little nerve-racking for first year students, the kindergarteners.

"They can be a little afraid but usually they're just so excited to meet and be at a big school even if they've gone to preschool it's their first time in big schools… some of them have older siblings and they're looking forward to being with them," said Brenda Lewis, a kindergarten teacher at Lake Asbury Elementary School.

That's the situation for the Yax family. The oldest sibling is heading into 5th grade.

"Well it's school so there's a bunch of tests and everything and then it's good to get away from home too and actually be able to learn something new," said Nick Yax, who is starting the 5th grade Tuesday.

That mom is sending her third and final baby off to school this morning.

"I was just emotional walking through the hall just you know on to a different phase in our lives, but the kids are getting to be so much fun as they learn more," said Kara Yax, a mother of three.

The first day of school is about all kinds of exciting firsts, even for Principal Lawson. Today is her first school opening as principal of Lake Asbury Elementary.

"These are my kiddos, I got a chance to meet them all in November. We worked together through the end of the school year last year but this feels more like my own," said Principal Sarah Lawson.

For parents of students in other districts not heading back just yet, some advice from a mom doing it today.

"I call 7 to 8 my hour of power and we have two hours of power 7 to 8 in the morning, 7 to 8 at night when you're getting ready for bed. You just have to be very scheduled stay on the kids," said Yax.

The Clay County school district is projecting 34,500 students and have 2,750 teachers and 1,500 support staff this school year.

Their career and technical education programs continue to grow and provide the students opportunities to learn within a field of their interest while providing them college and career readiness skills.

The second Vystar Academy opens Tuesday at Orange Park High School and at Keystone Junior/Senior High, students will have the opportunity to participate in a new National Defense Cadet Corp where students will gain the value of citizenship, leadership and personal responsibility.

Elementary schools will implement a new writing program in all K-5 language arts classes that will bring an increased focus on the importance of writing across the content areas and provide a different structure in classrooms that allows for more student conversation and collaboration.

Clay Hill Elementary will pilot a new IPAD learning project. 6th grade students will experience a blended learning environment with both digital instruction in partnership with Clay Virtual Academy and instruction presented by the classroom teacher.

Throughout this school year, the district will focus on three key initiatives: writing across the content areas (K-12); engaging students, staff, parents and all stakeholders in the teaching and learning process; and developing strong professional learning communities where teachers, staff and administrators work collaboratively to evaluate instructional practices based upon student outcomes.