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Mya Melli said her trick to transition her students into learning is to spend a few weeks just playing together.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Lori Clifford, Hazeldale Elementary School's councilor, prepares to open the door to students on the first day of school.Beaverton's students and teachers returned back to school this week with mixed emotions — mostly excitement, some said.

One teacher said her first day wasn't quite like she expected.

Mya Melli started Thursday, Sept. 8, for her first day as a kindergarten teacher.

"I think I expected a lot more tears and nervousness from kids who walked into my classroom," Melli said. "And I didn't really have any of that, so that's really good. I think everything is really flowing smoothly."

This will be Melli's first year truly on her own, since last year she was student-teaching at Tualatin Elementary School. But her experience there definitely helped her prepare for her new job at William Walker Elementary School.

"The teacher ended up going on maternity leave, so the last, like, month and a half, I was on my own," she said. "That gave me a little preview of what having my own kindergarten classroom with all the responsibilities would look like. It really got me prepared … for this teaching job."

With her kindergarten class, Melli said her plan to help transition them into school is to spend the first three to six weeks just playing together — but playing in a meaningful, purposeful way.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Agustine Wood-Preston, left, hugs her classmate, Riley Bilbao, both first graders at Hazeldale Elementary School.

That way, the kids will have enough time with the materials in the classroom, so when she actually uses them for a math lesson, they've gotten the play time out of their systems.

"As well as introducing them to the cafeteria rules, recess rules, things like that. Just foundational skills that they'll need for the rest of the school year," Melli said.

During the first half of her day, Melli found that keeping track of time was going to be her biggest hurdle.

"You can get caught up in conversations with kids and just getting them started in the activities can kind of take a while — especially for the first time ever," she said.

Overall, that first morning was a lot of fun, Melli said. There was a lot to remember, but things started out really well.

"Teaching is a very rewarding job in that every day, there's a new story to tell afterwards. It just keeps things very exciting," Melli said.

"So people should go into the profession of teaching — because we need more teachers," she laughed.

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