SPOKANE, Wash. – School is back in session for thousands of local students on Tuesday, and Spokane teachers – old and new – are getting ready. "I'll be nervous tomorrow morning for sure," new Jefferson Elementary kindergarten teacher Tara Stefanoff told KHQ's Kelsey Watts, adding that there will be more excitement than nerves.
Tuesday morning, she'll have 24 kindergartners hitting the classroom for the first time – but in a way, so is Mrs. Stefanoff. "I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up at 46," she laughed. "I was the volunteer coordinator, I was the lunch room lady, I was the crossing guard lady, I did all of it before I decided, ‘Hey, I need to be a teacher."
So, she went back to school at Whitworth to earn her masters and become a full-time teacher – and just found she got a job at Jefferson last week! "My goal was to have a teaching job before I turned 50, so yay, I turn 50 in January," she smiled.
Along with her two sisters, she's taken her brand new blank-slate of a classroom and transformed it into a welcoming place for her students. Down the hall at Jefferson, Tuesday marks the start of Melinda Kenney's 17th year in teaching. "I feel great, I'm excited and I'm ready to start a new year in a new building," the 3rd grade teacher said.
Her 25 students will take home a goodie bag on their first day of school, complete with a poem about 3rd grade and a little encouragement. "They have Smarties because we know they're smart, Laffy Taffy because we're going to laugh a lot, and erasers because it's okay to make mistakes," she explained.
After working the last seven days on her classroom, the math board is ready and the desks are outfitted with nametags; all that's missing now are the students. "So exciting, so exciting," Tara Stefanoff added. "It's going to be an amazing day."