By Wayne “Joe” Holder
USAG Stuttgart School Liaison Officer
The start of kindergarten is a very stressful time for both students and parents. Their little ones are on a new path of learning for the next 12 years. When you add that every student at Patch Elementary School is either bused or driven because of the new school construction, anxiety for everyone is magnified.
Beverly Erdmann, principal of Patch Elementary School, approved Assistant Principal Sheree Foster’s idea to reduce this stress and anxiety for both parents and students. On Sept. 2, three buses arrived on Patch Barracks to pick up the soon-to-be kindergartners and their parents for an adventure to Patch Elementary School.
In true Stuttgart fashion, the buses left Patch Barracks and were stuck in a Stau, arriving 20 minutes late. School aides were waiting in front of the school to show the children how to line up when arriving, and escort them to the playground to each teacher’s designated area. The kindergarten teachers took the children to their classrooms just like any normal school day.
Teachers, students, and parents experienced a typical day in kindergarten. At the regular lunch hour, teachers escorted their cherubs to the cafeteria with parents in tow. Once assembled, Chris Ferguson from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) bus office in Stuttgart, talked to the parents about bus safety, procedures, and answered any questions they raised. He also gave each child a pencil and a bus safety coloring book.
At the completion of the questions and answer time, the kindergarten teachers took their classes to the buses for the ride back to Patch Barracks. Parents had to sit in the back so the kindergartners can experience how they would travel on the ride home.
Erdmann stated that the event was a huge success, and the school will continue to do it each year if funds are available. One parent was overheard saying that they feel better about the bus ride to the school; however, “it’s their baby!”
To further help parents adjust to the idea of sending their children off to school, Patch Elementary School administrators hosted a “Boo-Hoo Kaffee & Kuchen” breakfast for those parents that needed some extra time for assurance and comfort from fellow parents and administrators to release their babies on a new career in learning.