LITTLE ROCK, Pulaski County — In just 16 days, Arkansas schools will be opening up their doors and welcoming students back inside.
While every teacher is having to adjust to this new way of learning, some are having to adapt more than others.
The Pulaski County Special School District brought more than 50 new educators to their staff this year. While there's always jitters for anyone starting a new job, this year it's a whole different ball game.
For first-year teacher Breanna Hildreth, it's a mix of emotions.
"Honestly I'm nervous, anxious, excited all in one," she said.
Last year, Hildreth was just a temp at Daisy Bates Elementary, but this fall she'll have her very own class of kindergartners.
"I have not seen any children since March, so I'm nervous about the blended learning, but the traditional learning is something I'm looking forward to to get to see them again," she said.
Laura Campbell, new to Crystal Hill Elementary, and Bokari Williams, new to Sylvan Hills Middle School, have both been in the front of the classroom for almost ten years. The staff, hallways, and building won't be as familiar, though.
"This is my first year teaching Kindergarten, so I'm going to have all those first day jitters, just like the children," Campbell said.
"The first day of school is going to be very interesting. I'm excited to meet my new young scholars either virtually or in-person," Williams said.
That aspect of blended learning is just one of the challenges these new teachers are going to face. With the constant reminders to social distance and keep masks on, the role of the educator is going far beyond the set curriculum, according to Campbell.
"My main job is just to be positive and without fear because the last thing I want is a whole classroom of children that are afraid to come to school," she said.
A passion for showing that unconditional love and support is why none of the three teachers have had any hesitations about walking into their schools' doors on that Monday morning.
Hildreth said she's doing it for the children.
"I feel like the school is doing everything they can to make sure that the babies are being safe and it's our job, that's who we're here for," she said.
This job of educating our world's future, that Williams believes is vital now more than ever.
"Being there present every day, teaching them what they need to know to go to the next level, wherever their life leads them. If they want to continue the education and become life long learners, that's important to me," he said.
While the next two weeks will be spent preparing and training, these every day heroes want to leave parents with one final message.
"We're going to do whatever we can to make sure that their child is taken care of, just like if it was our child," Hildreth said.
"I'm excited, I'm allayed, and I can't wait to see your young scholars," Williams said.
"Thank you parents so much for sharing your children with me, I will not let you down," Campbell said.
Pulaski County Special School District's first day of school is Monday, Aug. 24.