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Teachers Prepare for 1st School Year After Elementary Closures - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Teachers Prepare for 1st School Year After Elementary Closures

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On Monday, more than 800 students will start school at Central Elementary and West Central Elementary schools in Fluvanna County. Three-hundred of those students are moving there from Cunningham and Columbia elementaries - schools shut down to balance the budget.

Many of the teachers are going through the same transition from a small school to a big school and they say they're keeping their small school mentality.  As she welcomes her kindergartners to open house, Felicia Coles is just as nervous as her students about starting school in a brand new place.

"Usually I'm not as nervous but because it's like new to me like the first day for kids as well," said Coles.

This is Coles' first year at West Central Elementary. She and 300 students are moving schools this year after Columbia and Cunningham closed their doors.

"We were very sad closing down the small schools, so I kind of made like a little shrine to Columbia and Cunningham because I taught in both those little smaller schools. I like the personal - having a small classroom - but I think because the county's so small, we'll still have that same feel," said Coles.

Coles' fellow kindergarten teacher Amy Conner made the move from Cunningham to Central last year - leaving teachers she said were like family.

"We saw the kids as our kids, it wasn't just my kids, it was our kids. Everybody pitched in and helped out and coming over here in this little west wing right here it's the same thing it's not just my kids, we're going to get to know everybody's children," said Conner.

Teachers say this year will have its challenges.

"Leaving when there's 40 buses out there, and I have itty, bitty babies, that is going to be a challenge," said Conner.

But they say they will pull together - just like they did in Fluvanna's small schools to make the transition easy on their students.

"Adults can adjust but the little ones - we just want to make sure they can acclimate and come into this environment and still feel that personal, home-like feel that those smaller schools had," said Coles.

The teachers say they are grateful to the community for stepping in and donating during the move and another tight budget year - and they hope the support will continue throughout the year.

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