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Missoula teacher has 1st day on job as school year begins

Missoula teacher has 1st day on job as school year begins

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Teachers still get apples.

Raenelle Dayton got two of them at 8:32 a.m. Monday, in the first hour of her first morning on the first day of the first year of her entire teaching career.

"Oh, I love homegrown apples!" said the 25-year-old University of Montana education graduate, as her third-grade students made themselves at home in her Hawthorne Elementary classroom Monday morning. "Thank you!"

Jonny brought the apples in his backpack.

It was a day of introductions at Hawthorne, and all across

the Missoula County Public Schools District.

Dayton peppered her kiddos with adjectives like "fabulous" and "phenomenal" and "amazing" and "incredible," then a few compound adjectives like "incredibly amazing" and "fabulously phenomenal" as she got to know them.

They were new to the third grade. And she let them know that, though she had been a substitute teacher for three years, that she was new to them, too.

"This is my first day as an official teacher," she beamed. "And I am so excited! You will always have a special place in my heart, because you will always be my first class."

She praised them for their curiosity. And for raising their hands. And for sitting up like good students. And for not using their loud voices.

"Tanner, thank you for doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing!" she said.

She taught them about privacy and personal space.

"This is my area," Dayton said, occupying her desk. "Should you come over and open my drawers?" ("Nooo," was the correct answer).

"Should I come over and get into your desks?" ("Nooo," was the again-correct answer).

And sometimes, she said, she will have to get everyone's quick attention, not with a "Shhhh!" or a "Pay attention!" but with the splash of a little gong.

"This is my gong," she said, before applying the gong lesson. "It's just mine. Sometimes when I ring this gong, what do you think I need you to do?"

They knew.

And they learned, too, that the hallway rules are 1) be safe; 2) be respectful; 3) be responsible; and 4) be kind.

The big purple tub? That's for lunches.

Got a question? That's for raising your hands.

The stuffed lizard? That's for putting on your desk if you have to leave the classroom.

On and on it went.

For new third-graders. And a new teacher.

On her first day of the first year of her entire teaching career.

"Busy first day, right?" she said with a big grin. "Super busy! Super crazy!"

Reach reporter Jamie Kelly at 523-5254 or at


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