Denison ISD teachers, students embrace ‘new normal’

According to Denison ISD school officials, it hasn’t taken long for students and teachers to adapt to this year’s ‘new normal’ in the world of education. Designer masks and online learning may be the latest trends, but the collective vibe across Denison campuses reflects a united commitment to academic and personal excellence.

“Our students have such a positive attitude and are just so happy to see their friends and teachers again,” said Kyle Uber, Principal at Houston Elementary. “I think they’ve definitely missed the school routine and social interaction. They may be wearing masks, but I can see the smiles in their eyes. They’re glad to be back, and we’re glad to have them. Our staff has been working so hard on learning new technology and communicating with our virtual learners…and our families are behind us 100 percent as always. Together, as strong Houston Bulldogs, we’re going to make this another very successful school year for all our students.”

Veteran Houston teacher Melissa Greenwood says that what she sees in her classroom is uplifting and renewing during these difficult times.

It’s obvious that our students are so happy and excited to be reunited with teachers and friends, but I think it’s equally important that our families know that we, as educators, are happy to be back in our classrooms and online with our students…doing what we love,” said Greenwood. “We’re all on a day-to-day learning curve, adapting to all the new and necessary rules and situations, but we’re well prepared, following all the safety guidelines, staying focused on learning, and working hard to meet the academic and personal needs of every child. We’re all just happy and blessed to be together again.”

Across town at Mayes Elementary, welcome signs greet students with phrases that encourage, motivate, uplift and unify: ‘Together, we make a family’ and ’The best is yet to come.’

“Our teachers have entered this building with excitement, passion, and eagerness. They have also taken on the new challenges of social distancing, virtual learning, and wearing masks head-on,” said Principal Natalie Hicks. “Our staff members are thrilled to be back at school with the students. It’s amazing how happy the kids are to be back with their friends and teachers. One student said, “The masks are worth it to be at school!” and I truly believe many feel the same way. Students need the social interaction and stability that school brings each day. DISD staff members have spent endless hours preparing for a safe and welcoming start. Their positive attitudes and willingness to do whatever is needed to ensure student safety has been phenomenal. They have developed safety and instructional plans to meet the needs of all our students. As we entered the building on the first day of school, you could just feel the excitement in the air from our employees. They were eager to get into the classrooms to work with students. Although this year brings new challenges, our staff members have risen to the top to find unique strategies to help our students be successful.”

Mayes teacher Lacie Giasson echoed her principal’s sentiments.

“Teachers in general are known for their ability to adapt quickly and serve students of different needs and that’s just what we’ve been doing,” said Giasson. “It’s been a different and sometimes tiring journey adjusting to the NEWNESS, but the one thing that keeps us going is hearing those kids say “I am SO glad we got to come back to school!” Even at the elementary level, our students have done AMAZING at social distancing and wearing their masks. They just see masks as a new accessory for the most part! We’ve adapted, had to readjust our procedures, but one thing has remained the same: our love for our students…and our students’ love for learning and their home-away-from-home!”



Everyone in Melissa Greenwood’s classroom at Houston Elementary wears a mask throughout a typical school day of study and work. “We’re all on a day-to-day learning curve, adapting to all the new and necessary rules and situations, but we’re well prepared, following all the safety guidelines, staying focused on learning, and working hard to meet the academic and personal needs of every child,” said Greenwood.



Masked students in Lacie Giasson’s Mayes Elementary classroom complete daily work assignments in a timely fashion, part of the ‘new normal’ in today’s education world. “Even at the elementary level, our students have done AMAZING at social distancing and wearing their masks,” said Giasson. “We’ve adapted, had to readjust our procedures, but one thing has remained the same: our love for our students…and our students’ love for learning and their home-away-from-home!”



Houston Elementary Kindergarten teacher Lisa Tyson and Principal Kyle Uber welcomed students to school while helping with minor face mask adjustments when necessary. “Our students have such a positive attitude and are just so happy to see their friends and teachers again,” said Uber.



A group of orderly Mayes students made their way down the school’s main hallway, following social distancing guidelines as recommended by the CDC. “It’s amazing how happy the kids are to be back with their friends and teachers,” said Principal Natalie Hicks. “One student said, ‘The masks are worth it to be at school!’ and I truly believe many feel the same way.”



The positive attitudes of Houston Elementary staff and students are reflected on staff t-shirts emblazoned with the Bulldog BARK motto: Be respectful; Act responsibly; Reach your goals; Keep it kind. “Together, as strong Houston Bulldogs, we’re going to make this another very successful school year for all our students,” said Principal Kyle Uber.

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