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Administrators, teachers prepare classrooms for kindergarteners

Bemidji School District teacher Lindsay Potter is excited for the school year to start next week. She is spending time this week preparing a room she had previously worked in, except this year Potter has a new job, and the classroom looks very di...

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Superintendent Jim Hess talks Tuesday morning to the seven kindergarten teachers whose classes will be held at the District 31 offices, the old Kindergarten Center. From left are kindergarten teacher Teresa Kuleta, K-1 teacher Lindsay Potter and kindergarten teachers Alisha Lindenfelser, Kristine Albright, Lana Hunsberger, Hannah Marsh and Nancy Sullivan. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Bemidji School District teacher Lindsay Potter is excited for the school year to start next week.

She is spending time this week preparing a room she had previously worked in, except this year Potter has a new job, and the classroom looks very different.

Potter's classroom is in the newly-renovated Paul Bunyan Center, located at 3300 Gillett Drive N.W. Six kindergarten classes from Solway Elementary and Northern Elementary and the district's pre-kindergarten program from J.W. Smith will attend the remodeled facility this fall.

When Potter worked with the Bi-County Head Start program, which had previously been housed in the Paul Bunyan Center, Potter worked in the same classroom, but worked with children ranging from babies to 3-year-olds.

The Head Start program has now relocated to 2529 15th St. N.W., and Potter has since taken a new position as a pre-kindergarten teacher with the Bemidji School District.

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Potter noted her classroom was remodeled this summer. A wall was removed from one section of the room and some adjustments were made to the floor and the bathroom.

Next week Potter will teach 40 pre-kindergarten students. Colorful play mats line one corner of her room and art supplies fill shelves nearby. The room also has a reading loft, kitchenette and bins of toys, learning materials and games.

"Each kid will get their own cubby where they can put their school supplies, rest towel, spare clothes and other items," she said. "I still need tables, though."

Potter said she was trying to organize the classroom as quickly as possible since parents and students will be stopping in to see the classroom and herself for the first time Thursday.

"I'm most excited about the students," she said. "I get to play all day. I have the best job in the world."

The Paul Bunyan Center will continue to be the headquarters for district administration offices. To make way for the incoming kindergarteners, the district's Community Education offices moved to their former location at 15th Street Northwest and Beltrami Avenue Northwest.

Superintendent James Hess said the center is nearly ready to welcome new students. New lunch room tables should arrive at the center this week and projectors still need to be mounted in a few classrooms, Hess said.

"Administratively, we've been very careful during each stage of the transformation," Hess said. "I believe we're ready. Of course, there can always be a hiccup in the road, but we're going to do everything we can to see a smooth transition take place that focuses on the kids and their safety."

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Students at the Paul Bunyan Center will receive both breakfast and lunch. Bemidji High School food staff will prepare the meals, place them in transport containers, and the food will then be transported to the center twice daily.

"It will be the elementary menu, so the senior high staff is preparing a totally different menu than they have in the past," said Marleen Webb, the district's director of food services. "They'll do the very same elementary menu as the rest of the elementary schools."

Because the Paul Bunyan Center was a kindergarten center before now, it has a cafeteria and a small school kitchen, which includes a small dishwasher.

Students will use the same food trays, dishes and silverware as the other elementary students normally use, Webb added.

New bus routes were set up for Paul Bunyan Center students. Students will be picked up from their homes and bussed to their neighborhood elementary schools. From there they will be transported to the Paul Bunyan Center. After school, the kindergarteners are bussed back to their neighborhood elementary schools and then transported back to their homes.

Because of the extra bussing needed, Hess said the students at the Paul Bunyan Center will have slightly fewer learning minutes than students receive in the district's other elementary schools.

"They will have a little bit less time for allied arts (physical education, music, computers, etc.), Hess said. "But they will still receive the same number of core instructional minutes."

There will not be a library room housed at the Paul Bunyan Center but each classroom is expected to have a library included in it, and there will also be a library cart made available, Hess said.

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"We're really excited about having kids back in the building," he said. "That's why we have this building. It will remind us why we have district offices, payroll and human resources. It will add more joy."

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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