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Web posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baker Place principal excited about opening of new school

By Valerie Rowell
Staff Writer, Twitter @ValerieRowell

The paint at Baker Place Elementary School is barely dry and the sod is freshly planted.

But the hallways of Columbia County's newest school have yet to be scuffed by pupils' shoes.

Principal Leeann Fleischauer said she can't wait for Aug. 8, when about 650 pupils will rush through the halls, bringing the school to life.

"I love children and that's what makes a school," said Fleischauer, the 2005-06 Colum-bia County Teacher of the Year. "And they are all excited about coming to a new school."

Fleischauer, a former second-grade teacher at Euchee Creek Elementary and assistant principal at Cedar Ridge Elementary, said her primary focus and that of her staff is student academics and making the school a healthy, fun place for children to learn.

Even without children, Fleischauer said the school has been anything but quiet. Last-minute construction, installation and touch-ups continued through Friday, when she expected the phone system to be installed.

"It's been busy. I haven't even had a chance to get my office ready," Fleischauer said. "Things are kind of everywhere right now."

Located on Baker Place Road behind Grovetown High School, the new elementary school will draw pupils mainly from Lewiston Elementary, but also from Cedar Ridge and Euchee Creek elementary schools to fill its 51 classrooms.

The school is equipped with many technological advances such as interactive Promethian boards in most classrooms, LCD projectors in each classroom and added security measures.

"Everything is new," said Assistant Principal Michele Rigsby, who was the 2008-09 Columbia County Teacher of the Year and a state finalist. "It's great."

The two-story entrance includes a foyer with a parent lobby with access to the school office staff, but locked doors prevent unauthorized entry any farther into the school.

"It provides a sense of security, too, because you have this buffer," Fleischauer said. "This provides some safety... not only for our students, but for our staff."

She's impressed with the school's many windows and whimsical color palette and design. It also features a reading nook in the media center with tiered seats.

But one major variation from other elementary schools, the two-story entrance, is one of her favorite features of the new school that she is to lead.

"I think when you enter, it just seems so grand with the high ceilings," Fleischauer said.

She hopes to quickly create a sense of school community at Baker Place.

"That would be our second goal, to build relationships between our teachers, parents, staff, business partners and myself," Fleischauer said. "We have a lot of social events planned to help with this."

Teachers and staff gathered for a staff potluck pool party last week, and parents are invited to dinner at the school on Thursday.

Open house is scheduled for Aug. 4, and pupils arrive for the first day of school on Aug. 8.

"It's exciting," Fleischauer said. "We're making history."

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