Monday, April 19, 2021

TBE Opens After Being Closed All Summer – NOT!

YES, Tommie Barfield Elementary School (TBE) is about to open for the 2018- 2019 school year, but NO, it wasn’t closed all summer. In fact, there was a whirlwind of activity initiated from the minute the students left on the last day of school until the minute they arrived back for Meet the Teacher on August 14, or on their first day of school on Wednesday, August 15. Wait ‘til you read about all the changes!

First of all, you’d have to be an ostrich with your head underground to miss all the headlines, concerns and solutions proposed to enhance school security in the wake of school disasters and other terrorist acts around the nation. The good news is that Collier County Schools in cooperation with the Collier County Sheriff’s Department has been on top of school safety, dating back to the late 1970s, starting with a program called the Youth Relations Deputies program, which placed law enforcement officers in schools to be visible, available and build relationships with students. There are even more now. Fast forward.

During the summer, all schools in Collier County were equipped with a security entry system that visitors must use to gain access to the building, which has had one point of entry for the last few years. The directions are posted on the wall outside the main entry door.

In addition to the new “video doorbell,” other systems at TBE had to be replaced or refurbished including a major one – the air conditioning system. Thank goodness the company (ESSE) was efficient, and diligent. They had to troubleshoot the inside temperature with hundreds of parents and children filing into the building for Meet the Teacher at 8 AM. Who knows if it was the system or the influx of families filing in for this exciting event?

Major changes had to occur during the two months that the school had to complete all the projects. What? Only two months? It takes me longer to pack for a trip to the mountains!

Classrooms needed to have everything moved out to the hallway so the amazing custodial crew could clean every single room from top to bottom, then put the rooms back where the teachers had them (thanks to digital photos). Teachers who moved to new classrooms with all their belongings, storage areas that needed to be cleaned out and new shelves installed, new books and materials delivered to classrooms, the cafeteria tables moved out and the floor and bathrooms made spic and span… Take a breath. All windows in the building cleaned inside and out, the outside of the building, including sidewalks, pressure-washed, playground equipment cleaned and refurbished (and replaced if needed), new equipment installed, horticulture issues addressed, carpet replaced, painting, office format changed for efficiency, more safety fencing installed, and much more. Are you asking, “How can you get all that done in two months?” Good question!

Here’s the answer. Lots of hard work and dedication by the leadership team, staff and others with the expertise and commitment to the students and to assuring a great educational environment to work in. A huge thank you hug to all who contributed to a smooth opening day at TBE.

For TBE first day of school photos, turn to page B-8.

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