Tulsa Teachers Make Final Preps For New School Year

Thursday, August 18th 2011, 4:19 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Teachers at Tulsa Public Schools are gearing up for the start of the school year.

Students will head back on Monday, but teachers are already back in buildings. And after a summer of changes, district leaders gathered Thursday to rally the troops.

The district's consolidation plan means many teachers are in different schools, different buildings, different rooms, serving different students. So district leaders thought it was important to take a different approach to welcoming teachers back.

Typically the back to school pep rally means all TPS teachers in the same place. But this year, the auditorium was only part of the audience.

The rally was broadcast so teachers watched from all over the district, on television and even online.

"We had over 300 teachers displaced in different buildings as part of project schoolhouse. so the convocation was an opportunity to give them a jumpstart," Millard House, Deputy Superintendent, said.

The district closed 14 school sites, shuffled students and teachers, and re-drew district boundary lines at the end of last school year.

8/15/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Scrambles Ahead Of New School Year

At Skelly, that meant some teachers like Lori Jones moved to the old Zarrow building.

"Being a whole campus I think is going to make a huge difference for us," Jones said.

Skelly has seen a population boom for the last three years, so when the district added Pre-K and sixth graders, it also added the second campus.

"If we were going to be taking on anymore kids it was absolutely necessary," Katy Ackley, Skelly Upper Elementary teacher, said.

Lori Jones is thrilled. Skelly Pre-K and Kindergartners will have their own space, tailored to little ones.

"For them to be able to have everything at their level, I think is going to be tremendous. Very exciting, especially as an early childhood teacher," she said.

Skelly also has new school boundaries, absorbing part of the Lindberg attendance area, as well as a score of new teachers. Principal Katy Ackley says given all the changes, the pep talk was especially important.

"When you go through things that really upheave people's lives in a lot of ways it's easy to lose sight of why we're here. And I think that's the most important message is that it's about the kids and that's why we're here," Ackley said.

Another change is that Skelly is starting earlier, the bell bell will ring at 7:45 on Monday morning, August 22, 2011.  They're anticipating having 1,000 students between the two campuses.