First Day Of School

New teachers find it challenging, exciting


Celina Mickle's first day of school passed in a flash.

Mickle is one of four new teachers at Julia Randall Elementary School. She is teaching one of the elementary's special needs classes, working with students in the third, fourth and fifth grades.


Jonathon (left) gets help with a math problem on his first day of school at Julia Randall Elementary School from his teacher, Celina Mickle (right), as her assistant, Shelly Christian watches.

With 12 years of experience -- the most recent five were at the school on the Fort Huachuca base in Sierra Vista -- Mickle isn't a wide-eyed newbie in the classroom.

"It went by really fast. It was challenging, but fun," she said of her first day.

"It was a day for us to get to know each other."

In addition to meeting her students for the first time, Mickle also met three of the parents of her charges.

"They came by when we were having breakfast."

Mickle has an open-door policy. Any parent can visit the classroom at any time.

While getting to know one another was the main focus of the first day in Mickle's class, she said they still worked on academics.

Each student has their own Individual Education Plan and so Mickle will work one-on-one with each youngster to make sure they all have a good education.

"Every student is different, whether they have special needs or not. They're all who they are and that's what you work with."

Mickle is originally from Tucson and started her college career at the University of Arizona. A year before finishing, she and her husband moved to Pennsylvania. While there, she attended and graduated from Edinboro University with a dual major in elementary education and special education.

She worked in Pennsylvania for three years, and then came back to Arizona.

First she worked in Holbrook for four years and then went to work in Sierra Vista at the base school, where she taught fifth grade for five years.

"I love northern Arizona and always wanted to come back here. I love to fish and camp. I like the green."

She hasn't had a chance to fish and camp yet. School meetings kept her busy last week and now school has started.

Mickle may not have the wide-eyed innocence of a new teacher on her first day of school, but she has great enthusiasm and is excited about her students.

"I'm going to like it here, I know," she said.

New Payson teachers

Julia Randall Elementary is the only elementary school in the Payson unified district with new staff members. Joining the JRE faculty are Celina Mickle, Rachel Robinson, Bree Shipley and Christie Varner.

Jake Swartwood is the lone new faculty member at Rim Country Middle School.

The remaining new staff members are at Payson High School: Shelly Camp, Kari McCleskey, Joe Parone, Dean Pederson, Ryan St. John and Kezia Zuber.

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