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Genoa-Kingston schools the area’s first to kick off school year

KINGSTON – Jackie Royalty is stepping into this school year with a new age group of students and a new name, but a familiar love of reading.

Royalty was known by her third-grade students as Ms. Bouchez before her marriage in July. She’s starting her second year at Genoa-Kingston School District 424’s Kingston Elementary School, and this year she’ll teach second grade.

“In second grade, they come in such little kids; they’re so excited for school,” Royalty said. “They’re still kind of learning how to read, and by the time they leave third grade, they’re little people.”

As about 1,800 students returned to District 424 schools Wednesday, Royalty was ready to take on a challenge she said can be specific to second grade: the transition from picture books to chapter books. It’s something she looks forward to working on throughout this school year.

Genoa-Kingston schools were the first in DeKalb County to start the new academic year, while Hinckley-Big Rock and Indian Creek students return to school today. DeKalb School District 428 students are the last in the area to return to school with an Aug. 27 start date.

Joe Burgess, District 424 superintendent, said the district’s first day was a good start to the year, which he attributed to the hard work of administration and staff. For the first time this year, each sixth-grader in the district will have a Chrome tablet to work with in the classroom. He said district leaders would like to see this expanded to other grades in the future.

Students in Kirkland-based Hiawatha School District 426 students return Friday, and other schools have scheduled their first days for next week.

Elementary school students in Sycamore School District 427 found out Wednesday who their teachers would be for the upcoming school year, which Superintendent Kathy Countryman said is always an exciting time.

She also said some of the older schools in the district, such as West Elementary School, will have new HVAC units at the buildings for this school year, to help with needed climate control.

“We’re going to look at the work done last year and hit the ground running this year,” Countryman said.

For Royalty, her main goal this year is helping her students grow through learning. Her passion and inspiration for teaching dates back to childhood, and she plans to implement that passion in her classroom in Kingston.

“Teaching reading is my biggest passion,” Royalty said. “My goal is obviously to teach kids and get them to read and get them to enjoy reading. I love reading books with them that I read as a kid, like the ‘Boxcar Kids’ books, or classics like ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ “

She was inspired by her fifth-grade teacher in the western suburbs of Chicago, who aimed to not just teach, but help create well-rounded children.

“She made learning fun and shared a lot of personal life stories with us,” Royalty said. “She inspired me to want to do the same. I take that into my own teaching and try to capitalize on what each student is best at, and motivate them.”

First day of school

Indian Creek District 425: Today

Hinckley-Big Rock District 429: Today

Hiawatha District 426: Friday

Cornerstone Christian Academy: Monday

Somonauk District 432: Tuesday

Sycamore District 427: Wednesday

St. Mary’s Catholic School - Sycamore: Wednesday

Sandwich District 430: Aug. 22

DeKalb District 428: Aug. 27

St. Mary School - DeKalb: Aug. 27

Source: District websites, staff

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