HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – At Hollywood Park Elementary School, the hallways are busy.
With a brand new school year approaching, the Broward County school has brand new bulletin boards and books as teachers prepare to welcome students once again Tuesday.
The return to the classroom comes after several years of pandemic-related disruptions.
“We’re tying to go to a more natural, back to group work, team work,” fifth-grade teacher Elena Cardet said. “It’s how the kids thrive.”
Cardet has been a teacher for more than two decades. She said it’s critical for children to be able to build relationships with friends, something they missed while learning virtually.
“Everybody likes to hang out with their friends and talk,” she said.
And that runs across the board, over all grade levels.
“For some reason, I just feel extra calm this year,” first-grade teacher Karolyn Cruz-Williams said.
Karolyn Cruz-Williams said something feels different about this upcoming year. She’s been teaching first-graders for a decade and has taught 13 years in total.
“This is where the magic happens,” she said.
First grade, she said, is where we become lifelong readers and is crucial to the rest of our lives.
“You have to read the math,” she said. “You have to read the science, everything.”
As excited as the teachers are for the new school year, they admit they have to deal with extra stressors these days.
“Yes, there (are) added pressures every year but as long as you still have a passion for it then you’re going to continue to reach those kids,” Cardet said.
Hollywood Park’s principal said she knows the daily hardships.
“Teaching is, and I tell my staff all the time, one of the hardest jobs in the world,” MariaElena Menendez said. “It truly is.”