Employees from Lincoln Elementary School celebrate new staff members during the Springfield City School District’s convocation on Tuesday. The first day of school for students in first grade through ninth grade is Wednesday. JENNA LAWSON/STAFF.

Springfield City School employees celebrate start of new school year

Wednesday is the first day back to school for first through ninth grade students in the Springfield City School District — but they aren’t the only ones who are excited for the new year.

Over 1,000 district employees — many in matching T-shirts that showed school spirit — came together Tuesday for a convocation to get faculty and staff energized about the new year.

“If I don’t come to school, everything’s just fine. If the teachers don’t come to school, everything falls apart. They’re the backbone of our system,” said Springfield High School lead principal, Patrick Smith. “We’ve been working hard all summer trying to get ready for another successful school year in the ‘Wildcat Nation.’”

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Speakers, including Superintendent Bob Hill urged staff — both veterans and newcomers — to stay true to the district’s expectations and to make a meaningful connection with any of the 8,000 kids that the district serves.

One of Hill’s main points was to eliminate students’ barriers to learning.

“We will change lives. We will make learning relevant,” Hill said in his speech.

One of the teachers in attendance Tuesday was Hayward Middle School Language Arts teacher, Sara Gillespie. She said one of her first day activities with her students will be using Jolly Rancher candy to tell different stories based on the color candy the students choose.

“I always miss it when I’m away. It’s great to get the summers off and spend time with my own little ones, but it’s always really nice to get back into the swing of things,” she said. “We work with incredible kids who just bring all kinds of diversity and interesting things to the table.”

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New staff and transitioning staff were celebrated during the convocation, and each school cheered (some with pom-poms and cowbells) as their school was mentioned.

The Springfield High School marching band, drill team and cheerleaders wrapped up the event, which brought staff to their feet.

The convocation followed two days of professional development sessions that included a Cost of Poverty Experience. National Training Director for Think Tank, Inc., Heather Cunningham was the keynote presenter.

The first day for sophomores through seniors in the district will be Thursday.

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