David Barbour begins new chapter in life at South Side Elementary
Story and photos by Jeff Keeling
Five-year-old David Barbour stepped off his porch on West Pine Street Monday morning and strode up the sidewalk toward a new chapter in his life.
Accompanied by his parents, David and Tracy, and younger brother Daniel, David trekked to South Side Elementary School – like hundreds of other Johnson Citians his age, nervous and excited about his first day of school.
“I’m looking forward to not taking a nap,” he said, making his way up Pine Street in the cool morning air.
David related his interest in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series (cars, construction and Ninja Turtles also rank highly) and said he had already seen South Side’s library during an earlier visit.
“There’s a tree with books hanging down from it,” he said. “And there was a book at the tip top that mom couldn’t see and dad couldn’t see.”
David is no stranger to school. In fact, Tracy Barbour is the director at the Wellmont Child Development Center in Bristol, and David has attended there since he was a wee one. But attending pre-school with one’s mom present and heading off to a large elementary school full of strangers are two different things.
“He’s been with me, so to him school has included having his mom there,” Tracy Barbour said Saturday while dad was out with David getting new shoes and a haircut. “That’s why we’re a little nervous about the transition.
“Academically he’s ready. Emotionally he’s ready. He’s a little apprehensive, but he’s had three siblings who’ve gone to South Side, and South Side’s like family, so it’s kind of familiar to him.”
Indeed, after check in, a schoolwide assembly and a short meeting for all the kindergarten families, David headed to Chestnut Hall, stopping to marvel at a large owl (South Side’s mascot) in a glass case near the front office. He and his dad stepped into kindergarten teacher Jamie Mains’ classroom. It just so happened that as she let David acclimate himself to a classroom (teacher assignments haven’t been made yet), Mains reached behind her desk to show the youngster a class picture from her second year of teaching, and there was his sister Cathryn.
David quickly warmed up to Mains, pulling a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book out of his new backpack for a literary discussion.
David and the entire South Side student population also saw the tone of family atmosphere and energy set by the effervescent Anne Littleford, who was beginning her third year as principal. Littleford warmly welcomed a gym full of parents and students, introduced teachers and staff, and led the group in the pledge of allegiance and South Side’s theme song.
“If you have questions, issues, problems, compliments, you call us,” Littleford said. “We need to communicate well so we can have an awesome year.”
For David Barbour – now more comfortable with the place he’ll spend 35 hours a week for the next nine months – that “awesome year” will kick off in earnest Friday. Johnson City schools stagger kindergarteners’ first week, and that’s when he returns to find out who his teacher and classmates will be.
It is the News & Neighbor’s earnest hope that all of Johnson City and Washington County’s nearly 15,000 school students have a safe, enriching year.