Newspaper article The Canadian Press

First Day Jitters Rub out Animosity as School Year in B.C. Starts after Strike

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

First Day Jitters Rub out Animosity as School Year in B.C. Starts after Strike

Article excerpt

First day jitters erase animosity at B.C. schools

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VANCOUVER - While his striking kindergarten teacher was off-the-job, four-year-old Branden Reynolds was working hard -- reading up to 12 books a day, watching DVDs about Van Gogh and electricity and filming a NASCAR commercial where he had to kiss a dog.

On British Columbia's long-awaited first day of school, Branden and his six-year-old brother Keenan are well ahead of the curriculum they missed for three weeks during the strike.

Even so, their mother, Dorinha Reynolds, said the return to classes on Monday was "very emotional" because having her children in school has much wider significance.

"I joked and I laugh about it. I said, 'I'm not here for you to teach him anything,'" Reynolds said, describing a conversation with her son's teacher that included a wink.

"I'm here for him to learn with his peers -- social skills, development skills, solving problems skills. I want him to be where he is right now."

Public school teachers welcomed back some 558,000 students after walking off the job two weeks before the end of the last school year, cancelling summer school and postponing this term until ratifying a negotiated contract late last week.

The deal includes 7.25 per cent raise over six years, $400 million to hire new teachers and $105 million to resolve retroactive grievances.

Outside Elsie Roy Elementary school in Vancouver, posted signs calling for a "fair deal" had vanished, curtains were drawn back revealing clean white boards and the mood could have been mistaken for the regular September reunion.

Neatly-dressed children chattered with hope about getting paired in the same classes as their friends. And smiling parents snapped a memento photo of their children.

"I'm very excited for the children," said mother Erin Fowler, arm around her boys ages six and nine.

"I feel like they've been missing out on their friends and just going to school and seeing the teachers and learning. …

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