OPS dual-language program has others itching to be copy cats

Kaleb Lewis, left, and Alex Lee, both 7, spend the first half of their school day learning in Spanish in their second-grade class at Spring Lake Magnet in Omaha.

It’s back to school season! Chances are you are shopping for school supplies, trying to find the best deals and possibly picking up a few extras that seem to be the perfect addition to your child’s backpack or locker.

Although it may be tempting to get the giant foot-long pencil, some “supplies” just aren’t practical for the classroom.

Here are the things teachers prefer you just leave at home this fall.

1. Gel pens:

Young teachers with great eyesight might be able to read one essay written in light pink, but take that times 30 (or 100+ for secondary teachers) – and bring on the bifocals and Tylenol.

“I can’t read your paper when it’s written in lime green gel pen,” said Christine Daniels, a math teacher with the Bellevue Public Schools.

Even the best handwriting is hard to read in fluorescent gel pen. Save those for your cute drawings at home and notes to your best friend (written during non-school hours, of course).

2. Pokemon/Magic the Gathering/other cards and toys:

Imaginative, role play cards can develop creativity and problem-solving kids for children, but the temptation is too strong during educational time.

Teachers agree that toys such as TechDeck skateboards and Pokemon cards are better left for rainy days and playtime at home.

“Bring on the school supplies; leave the toys at home,” Tricia Rhode, Millard Public Schools Special Education teacher, said.

3. Cell phones:

Teachers are divided on this one. Many teachers are open to using cell phones and other tech devices for educational purposes in the classroom, but almost all agree on one thing: there are times they should not be used. And that’s up to the classroom teacher.

“Phones are for emergencies or only used in class when asked by the teachers,” said Kelly McVey, a social studies teachers with the Bellevue Public Schools. “Parents should not text their kids while they’re in school.”

If there is an emergency, parents should definitely call the school directly to let them know.

Millard Public Schools social studies teacher Simon Falcon agrees that cell phones have their place in school, but it should be at a teacher’s discretion.

“As long as cell phones are turned off when class starts, they are fine with me,” Falcon said.

4. Pets:

It may sound crazy, but furry friends have found their way into backpacks and coat pockets. Prearranged elementary show-and-tell may be the exception, but, otherwise, leave your pets at home.

“We had a pet rat in a locker at school this year!” said Lisa Olsen, a guidance counselor with the Bellevue Public Schools. “Students should leave pets at home.”

5. Homemade food:

Leave the allergy-laden foods at home. With so many students suffering from allergies that could potentially end their life, it’s too risky to bring the peanut butter cookies to share. If your child is allowed to have snacks brought to school for birthday parties or celebrations, check with your school or the classroom teacher for specific guidelines.

Many schools welcome students to have snacks, and a lot of kids brown bag it for lunch, but passing out food can not only be a major distraction, it can make kids sick.

When it comes to getting ready for the school year, most schools give supply lists. These are a few things you probably won’t find on them. If you are looking for what is on your child’s back-to-school list, you can find it at your school or district’s website.


Jen Schneider is a middle school teacher and mom to two children.

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