As students and parents double check their shopping lists to make sure they have all the back to school supplies they need, teachers are hard at work prepping for the new year as well.
The 2014-2015 school year officially gets under way in Nebraska City on Wednesday, Aug. 13, when Lourdes Central Catholic students report for class at 8 a.m.  Nebraska City Public School students report back the next day, Thursday, Aug. 14.
Christina Adkins is starting her 15th year of teaching.  The fifth grade educator at Hayward Elementary School said the hardest part of going back to school for her is the mental shift.
“There is always a bit of panic at the end of summer break,” Adkins said.  “It’s a big transition to go from playing with my kids at home every day to going back to school.”
Adkins said inspirational stories and quotes help get her in the right frame of mind.  She also spends several days every August getting her classroom set up and tweaking her curriculum.  Adkins is one of five fifth grade teachers at Hayward; she will have 19 students in her classroom this year.
For first year teachers, or teachers new to the Nebraska City Public School district, Teresa Frields is on hand to answer questions and give support.  Frields is the Director of Assessment and Curriculum with Nebraska City Public Schools.  She and Jason Hippen, Director of Student Services, run a new teacher mentor program.
“We give new teachers, or teachers new to our district, an overview of the district and let them spend extra time in their buildings, getting to know the facility and the other teachers and staff,” Frields said.  “We cover everything from policy to discipline to curriculum to ordering to resources – a gambit of everything they might run across that first year.”
Frields said her team meets with the new teachers every month during that first year.
“We want them to know we are here to help them be successful,” she said.
Each Nebraska City Public School building will host an Open House on Tuesday, August 12.  Adkins said it’s a great opportunity for the students to get a first look at their new classroom.
“It’s a quick visit, but it helps the kids get comfortable, see the classroom and books, and drop off their supplies,” Adkins said.  
For mom Karen Barr, the 2014-2015 school year holds new challenges.
“This will be my first time having both kids in all day school,” Barr said.  Her daughter Alyson will be a sixth grader at Nebraska City Middle School while son Jackson starts kindergarten.  “It will be weird not shuttling Jackson from daycare to preschool every day, but I might be able to get more accomplished at work now!”
Barr said back to school rituals for her family include school supply and shoe shopping and posing for pictures on the first day.
“We do try to go to bed early the week before, but we are not always successful,” she said.
Some students started planning for the 2014-2015 school year last spring.  Several Nebraska City High School seniors are taking a Senior Project class and they met last year as juniors to start planning their projects.
“We have a student building a car from scratch, another who will be building a bridge, and another student attempting to get published,” said NCHS principal Brian Hoover.  “We have some great kids with wonderful ideas taking this class and it will be great to see what they produce.”
Hoover said every year he gets excited to think about how he can help students achieve their goals.
“Whether it is a student who is struggling to graduate or a student getting into the Naval Academy, the satisfaction of being a part of that and witnessing those moments of growth is overwhelming,” Hoover said.  “I get excited to see where I can be of service to help everyone reach their goals.”
The Nebraska City High School will host the annual Community Pep Rally on Friday, August 15, in the north High School parking lot beginning at 6 p.m.  The NCPS Athletic Boosters are working with Watkins True Value to bring in inflatables and a dunk tank, Fareway is helping with food, and the boosters are running games.