Posted Date: 08/02/2017
Credit – Standard Democrat
Sikeston R-6 School District teachers and staff will once again kick off the new school year with a bus tour and stops through their students’ neighborhoods.
Set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, the third annual community bus tour includes four school buses filled with teachers, staff and school resource officers riding to various bus stops in the district and greeting some of the school children, parents and community members along the way.
“Every year it’s gotten a little bigger and more exciting,” said Sarah Thompson, communications/human resources assistant for Sikeston R-6 School District. “Last year we had about 60 teachers participate, and this year 75 have signed up.”
It’s not only teachers who will visit the community this year; the event was extended to everyone who works in the district, Thompson said. School resource officers along with some officers from Sikeston Department of Public Safety are slated to participate, she said.
“We’ll meet at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and grab bottles of water and door hangers to pass out to residents,” Thompson said, adding district staff made 1,000 door hangers which include flyers, back-to-school coupons and other items and information for families, she said.
The buses will not stop at each house; rather they will stop at bus stops, she noted.
“Everyone gets off the bus at that point and walks the neighborhood. They will knock on the doors and leave the hangers with back-to-school information and visit with any students and community members,” Thompson said.
New this year, teachers and staff were asked to paint rocks and hide them over town as part of the trend of painting and hiding rocks and posting hints on Facebook.
“We will try to post them as we’re doing it on the Sikeston Rocks Facebook page,” Thompson said.
This year the district is also offering prizes via a social media incentive on Twitter using #SpotTheBus.
“Anyone who does spot the bus and posts a picture of it on Twitter using #SpotTheBus, we will have free T-shirts while supplies last,” Thompson said, adding these are T-shirts only the employees have.
Anytime after 5 p.m. Thursday, patrons can watch the district’s Twitter account and Facebook page for updates, according to Thompson.
“We’re excited, and we want to meet as many students and parents as we can prior to them walking into the classrooms for the new school year,” Thompson said.
Misty Murphy, special education teacher at the Sikeston Fifth and Sixth Grade Center and High School, will participate in her second community bus tour on Thursday.
“Last year was a very good experience,” said Murphy, who is entering her third year working in the district. “I got to see the community, where the students lived, meet some of the parents outside of the school environment — and that carried over into the school year. I would see them in public and they would say hello, and I would see them at school and they would say hello.”
The tour, Murphy said, gave her more insight to the area where she teaches.
“I teach special education at Sikeston so I don’t see the whole student body, and it gave me connections and faces to put with names,” Murphy said.
Murphy said first-year teachers to the district would especially benefit from participating in the bus tour.
“They dropped us off at one block and we’d make our way down the street. Some people come out and said hello, and we talked to them and gave them information about back-to-school events and the Bulldog Pantry,” Murphy recalled.
The community reaction was a positive one, according to Murphy.
“The kids were all smiles when they saw us — even the high school kids. I didn’t get a negative vibe. People would honk and wave at us,” Murphy said.
The community bus tour puts the school teachers and staff on the students’ turf for a change, Thompson pointed out. Most of Sikeston R-6’s elementary buildings host open houses before the first day of school, which is Aug. 16, and the other buildings do it after the school year begins, she said.
“This is one time you can meet secretaries, teachers and administrators at once, and it’s a great opportunity for us as well as the students and parents,” Thompson said of the bus tour. “We’re excited about it and want the community to get involved.”