Few people eagerly await the start of school like Linda Scoville.

The Julia Randall Elementary principal doesn’t take summers off like most teachers and students. No, she spends most of June and July in a relatively empty school building.

So she was thrilled on Monday to see the school come back to life with close to 600 third- through fifth-graders and preschoolers filling 18 classrooms to start a new school year.

“I want children to fill our school,” she said. “Once you get kids coming in the energy level rises. It just makes me happy. It’s one of the most fabulous things. I feel as long as we have kids in our school, life is good.”

Scoville, who is beginning her fifth year as JRE’s principal, said she misses the interactions with teachers and students during the summer.

“I think relationships with the staff and with the kids and their families is really what it is,” she said. “You don’t get that when you’re here by yourself.”

Connie Miller began her 33rd year in education working at JRE’s front desk. She’s filled many roles in her more than three decades in education from working in the cafeteria to preschool to the office and more.

“She does everything,” Scoville said of Miller. “She takes care of me, she takes care of children and she takes care of teachers.”

Miller has seen families grow up before her eyes.

“I had my preschoolers and their parents and now I have their kids,” Miller said with a laugh.

Gina Brooks began her 14th year as a teacher by welcoming 28 students to her fourth-grade class at JRE. She said she is looking forward to her ninth year at JRE after a summer vacation that included trips to New York City and Colorado with her family.

“It’s always exciting,” she said. “Summer’s nice. I’m not going to lie, that’s fun, but I always get real excited this time of year because it’s fresh kids, it’s just very new and I love that.”

She had some time to prepare for school to begin.

“I spent the last couple of weeks modifying things in the classroom to make it work a little more smoothly,” she said. “You can always tweak and modify and change to make it work better for kids.”

For example, she turned the desks around last year to prevent students from using the shelves beneath to store pencils, paper and things like rocks and other items. Now she has one container sitting in the middle of each group of six desks so pencils and paper are easy to find, and other item holders next to the desks.

She got the idea from the social media site, Pinterest.

“They’re like little squirrels,” Brooks said with a laugh. “They like to stash stuff.

“’Where is my pencil?’ is the question I hear most. So we have it set up for organization and we try to teach them those skills but they’re fourth-graders so they need to be taught. It just takes constant reinforcement.”

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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