Thousands of Knox County teachers are preparing to head back to school. This year brings a number of changes-- everything from new curriculum and standards to expanded classroom initiatives, and for the first time, full day kindergarten.
The change means an extra 300 hours of instruction per year.
"This is going to be brand new. And I've been through a lot of 'brand news'," said Leslie Cook, a kindergarten teacher at Sequoyah Elementary with 30 years experience.
With two children of her own who have gone through the system, she's had a front row seat for all those "brand news".
"They did half day, they used magic markers, not pencils," she said of her children's experience. "It's a completely different program, and I've seen it evolve over the years."
This year the kindergarten day evolves from a 1 p.m. dismissal to 2:45.
"What this full day kindergarten allows us the opportunity to do, is really provide that opportunity for more instruction time to all our kindergarten students and not just a handful of students who might be struggling," said Dr. Jim McIntyre, superintendent.
Previously, teachers used the extra for intervention with struggling students.
"We had them working with small groups of students and doing preparation and the like at that time," McIntyre said. "Now we're utilizing that time for instruction"
With higher standards for students and teachers alike, many educators welcome the change.
"We're excited on both ends, for the kids and ourselves," said Lindsey Church from A.L. Lotts Elementary.
"It'll give us a lot more time to work with our kids in small groups, we're really going to be able to meet their needs," said Jennifer Beckner, also from A.L. Lotts. "Its going to be great all around."
As in years past, kindergarten students will be on a staggered start. For the first two weeks dismissal is at noon. Their first full day will be August 28th.