September 4, 2013

First day of school nerve-racking for teachers, too

The Press Herald follows a South Portland teacher on her first day with a classroom of her own.

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Sarah Glenn calls on one of her students on Tuesday, September, 3, 2013 at South Portland's Memorial Middle School on her first day as a teacher.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Sarah Glenn meets with one of her eighth-grade science classes on Tuesday, September, 3, 2013 on her first day as a teacher.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

"If you don't waste my time in class, I won't waste yours," she said.

She also gave her language arts and science students in-class writing assignments, which they completed with country music playing in the background.

A few students read aloud short paragraphs they wrote about themselves. The boys said they liked rap music and watching sports shows. For girls, it was reality television.

Glenn read her own. She likes the Zac Brown Band and Journey. Mashed potatoes are her favorite food. She once stayed up all night reading "The Hunger Games."

As the students left after period three, Glenn let out a sigh. She had her first free period. A teacher stopped by to ask how the day was going.

"So far, so good," Glenn said.

The hardest part, she admitted, was homeroom, mostly because she didn't know her way around well enough to answer their questions.

"When they're like, 'I can't find my locker,' I'm like, 'Neither can I," she said, laughing.

Glenn took out the salad she packed. She hadn't been shown the teacher's lounge yet to know where to keep her lunch. "So that's a goal of this week," she said, "to find the fridge."

After eating at her desk, she headed down to cafetorium for another first in her new career.

"Are you stuck on lunch duty on your first day?" asked Assistant Principal Steve Chabot as he walked by her in the hall.


Glenn stood in the doorway as the students filed through. Once they were inside, she weaved between the tables, watching the students as they munched on the nachos, ravioli and sweet potato bites on the menu. Some gaggles of girls squished together on benches. One boy sat alone.

When they put their trays away, Glenn picked up the rags used to wipe down the tables and put them in a wash bucket. She counted her first lunch duty a success.

"No food fight," she said, smiling.

A silent-reading period was scheduled after lunch, but no one brought a book on the first day. Glenn pointed out the shelves in the back of the room where there were books they could borrow in the future. Starting tomorrow, she said, it would be a time for reading only -- no going to the bathroom or getting a drink.

"It's really important that we read every day," Glenn told them.

Glenn's final period of the day was an intervention seminar, a time for students to work on homework or get extra help from teachers. With no assignments for her students to work on, Glenn went over the rules for the seminar and let them talk among themselves.

The new teacher rolled her desk chair up to students and asked them how their first day had been. It was too hot in the classroom, they said. She told them they were welcome to bring water bottles tomorrow.

At 2:15 p.m., the bell rang twice. "Students may now be dismissed," came the announcement over the intercom.

Glenn waved as they left for their buses. "Bye, guys. Have a good night," she said.

"One down," she said, once the students were out of the room.

That's her teaching philosophy in general, she said. Take one day at a time.

"As long as you know what you're doing that day, you're OK," she said. "I might not have tomorrow figured out, but I can get through today." 

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at:


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Sarah Glenn, on lunch room duty on her first day, monitors students during the eighth grade lunch on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)