FIRST DAY FANFARE ... Conners Emerson School students welcomed teachers on Wednesday morning as they arrived for their first day back on campus for the new school year. Parents were also on hand for the second annual surprise event organized by the Parent Teacher Student Association, which included homemade signs, music, cheering and hugs. Classes begin today, Aug. 29, for schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School system. ISLANDER PHOTO BY BECKY PRITCHARD

Second annual surprise gathering welcomes teachers

BAR HARBOR — Music blared as a large crowd students and parents gathered outside Conners Emerson School Wednesday morning to greet teachers on their first day returning to the classroom, one day before the first day of school.

This marked the second annual “welcome back teachers” event, organized by Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) volunteers Jennifer Dougherty and Cate Schneider.

Students and parents carried homemade signs and cheered as each teacher arrived and walked a red carpet to the school’s front door.

Student Ruby Pagan emceed the event, announcing the arrival of each teacher over the microphone. Other students ran to hug arriving teachers.

“We try to keep this a secret from the teachers,” said Schneider, who also organized last year’s welcome-back event.

Schneider said she originally got the idea when she watched teachers leave the school to line the sidewalks, holding signs and cheering for students on their last day of school in June.

“I always knew the teachers and faculty at this school were particularly caring,” she said. “But having them say goodbye to the students in this way … it literally brought tears to my eyes.”

Last year’s surprise event brought tears to some teachers’ eyes, Schneider remembered.

This year Schneider and Dougherty planned the party even bigger, adding music broadcast from large speakers, and an actual red carpet on loan from Reel Pizza.

“Imagine arriving on your first day of work to a cheering crowd greeting you with welcome signs!” Dougherty wrote in an invitation emailed to school parents. “Sometimes it’s the simple things that can make a big impact.”

“We wanted to show how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication each and every day,” Schneider said.

The students present on Wednesday morning couldn’t agree more. “They’re all kind and smart,” said 4th-grader Rebecca Rand, when asked what she liked about teachers.

“They help us learn,” commented Isla Preston-Schreck, also in 4th grade.

“And help us with our problems,” added Rand.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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