As doting moms across the nation are reluctantly cutting the chord this morning in the final step to prepare their kids for the first day of school, one local mom is giving her two sons an eager push out the door as they each prepare to embark on a new journey.

For single mom, Dr. Danna Beaty, the opening of the 2009-10 school year is bittersweet as her youngest, Banks, 6, is strapping on his backpack with matching lunchbox in hand, ready to enter the halls of Central Elementary.  Brighan, 12, her oldest, is donning his pads and helmet, ready to make his football debut at Henderson Junior High.

Banks has his priorities in line when it comes to education. He said he is most excited about dining in the school’s cafeteria on meals lovingly prepared by mom, tucked neatly into his brand new lunchbox. And he was thrilled to learn that schools have made a shift to technology, relying on computers and smart boards more than traditional books and chalk boards.

“Computers!” Banks exclaimed. “I hope they have video games!”

With an amused grin, mom reminded him that school is about learning and not just fun and games. 

As a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Tarleton State University, Beaty said she drives home the importance of the three R’s and is confident both of her boys will be in good hands at their respective campuses.

“I have a background in education, so I have appreciation and respect for what teachers go through and the jobs they do,” Beaty said.

Beaty admits that when it comes to her sons’ education she is not the run of the mill mom. She said in preparing Banks, who attended Tarleton’s Child Development Center, for his first day of public education she had a sit down with Judy Walker, principal at Central. Beaty said she wanted to be sure that her youngest was placed with a teacher who could understand his needs when it came to getting his future in the Stephenville ISD off to a strong start. She admitted that she had a few concerns in transitioning Banks from the child development center to public school.

“The center at Tarleton was a truly nurturing environment,” Beaty said. “Public school is more structured and Banks is a free spirit. I wanted to make sure that he got a teacher who would help meet his needs both socially and academically.”

While the days are gone when parents could request specific teachers, Walker also said it is not uncommon for parents to meet with her to discuss a student’s needs.

“You would be surprised how many parents come in and talk about the special needs of their children,” Walker said. “We discuss their children’s personality, strengths and weaknesses to be sure that things match up. Teachers can’t be requested, but that helps us in assigning instructors if we aware of special needs.” 

Walker said this year the campus will welcome a handful of children with medical conditions, such as one child with a slight hearing deficit, whose parents requested a classroom without a window unit, knowing the noise would make it difficult for the student to hear the teacher.

“Those things are good to know in advance so we can meet the needs much sooner and in a more effective way,” Walker said. “We really appreciate when parents share concerns in advance.”

On the flipside, Walker said there are occasions when parents will request that their children be in the same class with a close friend.

“They might say that their children are best friends, they were raised together and they request that they are placed in the same class,” Walker said. “In the classroom it is not always the best decision to educate them together.”

With enrollment on the rise, and many students being the children of first time parents, the school is educating students and parents alike. She said it becomes the school’s job to help those parents understand what is and is not appropriate when it comes to education.

“Still, we always encourage use of our open door policy,” Walker said. “I like to see parents who are advocates for their children. I always thank parents, even when they are upset for one reason or another, for being that advocate.  Parents need to be the number one advocate.”

And Beaty is no doubt an advocate for her children, as well as an advocate for education. And she has instilled a love for learning in Brighan.

He is a good student,” Beaty said.

For Brighan, a strong student, stepping up to the junior high level has him filled with excitement. He also admits to having a slight case of nervousness. With his strong desire to one day work his way onto the starting line of the varsity team, he knows to get his chance on the gridiron he will have to keep up his grades.

“He knows his education comes first,” Beaty said.

While Brighan is ready for the excitement and his future on the field, he also admits he is a little shaken about pre-advanced placement courses.

Although both brothers are going separate ways when they depart for their first day of school today, they both say they are up for the adventure.

“They will do great,” Beaty said with a heartfelt smile.