‘She’s not nervous so we’re not nervous’: Petaluma students, staff head back to school
Jaime Buschman was greeted Tuesday by a sea of smiling faces and energetic “Good mornings” from third grade students while they molded clay sculptures at their desks.
It was the first day back from summer break at the Petaluma City School District, and the first time Buschman would welcome students as Valley Vista Elementary’s newly hired principal.
“I am so excited to be a part of this community,” Buschman said Tuesday morning. “Valley Vista is always spoken amongst us as a hidden gem; that it is just such a unique school in that the sense of community from (transitional kindergarten) to sixth grade is so strong.”
Over at the Waugh Elementary School District, Buschman’s predecessor, Catina Haughen, also marked the start of the 2022-23 school year, now principal at Meadow School.
For many parents and students, the first day of school brought excitement, especially since COVID-19 fears restricted most parents last year from entering their students’ classrooms.
As students and staff at the Old Adobe Union School District returned to class Wednesday, Janine Barthol was grateful she got to walk her son, Dash, to his kindergarten classroom at Miwok Valley Elementary, where last year he had attended transitional kindergarten.
“He’s gotten a little accustomed, but it’s nice to actually be able to go on campus,” Barthol said. “It was very weird (last year).”
At Valley Vista, Val Cartwright was happy to see her son head off to kindergarten — and to get back a sense of normalcy following pandemic restrictions.
“I feel great about it,” she said. “He’s desperate for peer interaction.”
Katy and Vincent Contreras were there to drop off their daughter for her first day of kindergarten.
“She’s super excited,” they said. “She’s not nervous so we’re not nervous.”
Buschman, a Petaluma native who began her career with Petaluma City schools in 2008, said she looks forward to the year ahead. She was first hired as a teacher at Penngrove Elementary, and later stepped into a leadership role in the district, as well as having worked as a teacher on special assignment for continuous school improvement, a summer school principal, a program manager and interim principal.
Buschman also spent the last three years receiving training in what’s called improvement science, the application of small, measurable and individualized changes to address specific issues in an educational setting and help uncover a problem’s root cause.
“I’m excited to bring that knowledge here and make sure any changes or updates that we make are made out of very sound, data-driven decisions,” Buschman said.
Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5208.