Linda Feldmesser has been a teacher for 15 years -- and she's really nervous about Monday. She'll lose sleep the night before, she's sure, and fret about whether she'll fit in.
Come Monday morning, Ms. Feldmesser will teach gifted students at Ellicott City's Manor Woods Elementary School, a new $8 million building for 500 students in an area burgeoning with growth.
The school was built to relieve crowding at other area elementary schools. For example, it is expected to draw about 300 students who formerly attended Waverly Elementary and 65 from West Friendship Elementary. As of yesterday, the total number of students registered in Manor Woods was still below 500.
"We are starting out with a little breathing room," said Principal John Morningstar. "That's good. But it will fill up quickly."
Just days before Sunday's open house, expected to draw parents and local officials, the school staff was putting the final polish on Manor Woods.
Teachers bustled around the building, tip-toeing on chairs to put posters and kneeling to adjust desk heights. The freshness of a new building was unmistakable. The gym -- equipped with eight basketball backboards -- still smells of lacquer, and the tractors were working on the landscaping. Workers touched-up the trim and tinkered with doors.
"We just have to get the kids through the front door the first day first and it will be fine," said Mr. Morningstar, a 17-year veteran as a principal, most recently at Hammond Elementary School. "I'm pumped up. It's something I've always wanted to do, to open a new school, so it's really exciting."
The 65,000-square-feet angular building, built in a clearing off of Frederick Road and surrounded by oak and maple, is a prime example of a modern, suburban school.
It is networked electronically so that classes can watch videos simply by picking up a phone and dialing a number.
Each classroom has computers and there are 26 more in the computer lab and media centers. Mr. Morningstar said he has a $200,000 operating budget and a $500,000 budget for equipment and for furnishing the facility.
"Partly why I came here is because technologically, it's incredible," said Peter Parlette, who will teach 5th grade and is in his 16th year as a teacher. "I haven't seen anything like this."
Jeremiah Johnson, a 9-year-old, was at Manor Woods yesterday with his mother, registering for school. He acts shy, said his mother, Tammy Johnson, but is very excited about his new school.
The boy said he is looking forward to playing baseball, his favorite sport, at the school's new facilities.
And, as he shuffled his feet, he said what he will miss most about leaving his former school, St. John's Lane Elementary, for Manor Woods: "Friends."
Manor Woods Elementary School will hold an orientation for parents and students today at 1 p.m. and an open house Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.