Teachers at Eastside Elementary in Greenbrier are gearing up to meet their new students by taking part in professional development days.

Principal Mandi Dunlap said the group recently capitalized on the recent movie, “The Greatest Showman,” by decorating Eastside as, “The Greatest School.”

“I knew using, ‘The Greatest Showman,’ theme would bring a lot of energy,” she said. “P.T. Barnum has a lot of inspirational quotes. Our quote of the year is, ‘No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else,’ [by] P.T. Barnum.”

Dunlap said that quote “rings true,” to education in a lot of ways.

“All of our students are unique and it is our job as professionals to meet their individual needs, educationally, emotionally and physically,” she said.

During the professional development days, teachers focused on learning research-based reading strategies, read professional texts to reignite their passion for teaching and had vertical and horizontal conversations — fifth-grade teachers with six- and fourth-grade teachers in collaboration — to prepare everyone for the new year.

“Eastside teachers are dedicated to their students and look forward to their return in just as few days,” Dunlap said.

“We are so excited to start the new year. We are looking forward to seeing all our returning students and welcoming new families.”

Katrina Robertson, third-grade math teacher at Eastside, said there are several aspects to starting a new year that are exciting and full of anticipation.

“One of these aspects is the ability to fill our classrooms with a new group of students who are eager to learn, be challenged and grow,” she said. “This is my favorite part of starting a new school year: embracing the unique abilities of my upcoming students.”

Robertson said the joy they bring ignites her passion as a teacher.

“Another aspect that brings excitement is the reunion of my fantastic coworkers and administration,” she said. “There is a positive and encouraging vibe at Eastside Elementary that is contagious when visitors, parents and children enter the doors.”

Robertson said the staff has been brainstorming lessons, engaging activities and fresh ideas that they will be able to implement when the first school bells rings.

“Teachers reflect over their skills during the summer and they made modifications to their teaching in order to best meet their student’s needs,” she said. “This new start really brings excitement to me and to my school.”

Greenbrier School District starts back Aug. 15.