August 4, 2008

Teacher Returns to Her Former Elementary School in Autauga County, Ala.

By Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.

Aug. 4--Katrina Lucas is anxiously looking forward to Thursday, the first day of the new academic year for Autauga County Schools.

Welcoming 16 third-graders to her classroom at Pine Level Elementary School will be a bit of a homecoming for the first-year teacher, who is a 2004 graduate of Billingsley School.

"I'm excited and a little bit scared at the same time. It's exciting to be teaching in Autauga County," she said as she worked to get her classroom ready. "When I first walked down the halls here I saw Mrs. (Cindy) Manning and Mrs. (Pam) Luker, who taught me fifth and third grade. ... I still can't force myself to call them by their first names even though we are colleagues. ... I have such good memories of them. That's what I want for my students -- I want them to have good memories of me one day."

Superintendent Larry Butler is enthusiastic about Lucas teaching in the system.

"We love to have our former students come back as teachers," he said. "Miss Lucas was a standout up in Billingsley. Who better to take care of our kids than people who have been through our schools?"

Tammy Horton, who has been a teacher since 1989, left the Auburn City Schools System in 1997 and came to Autauga County, where she has taught at Prattville Kindergarten School. But the veteran instructor shares newcomer Lucas' excitement.

"Kindergartners just have this phenomenal level of excitement and energy. They make your life so much more interesting," she said. "I still get butterflies on the first day. I've been at school just about every day for the past two weeks getting my classroom ready. It doesn't matter how long I've been teaching, the first day is always exciting. It's like everything is new all over again."

Lucas, a graduate of Alabama A&M University, has always been driven to teach -- except for that year in fifth grade in Mrs. Manning's class when she carried a camera around everywhere and had dreams of being a photographer.

"When I was younger and we played school like all kids do, I was always the teacher," she said with a laugh. "I always told my younger cousins what to do. I can't wait until the first day I'm a real teacher."


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