Liberty Elementary running smoothly few weeks into school year

Liberty's main difficulty at the start of the school year was traffic, which has worked itself out in the first few weeks.

Three weeks into the school year, students and teachers are settling in to Liberty Elementary. The early challenge of getting cars and buses used to the flow of traffic has steadily improved since day one.

"Usually the first day of school, you have a lot of parents that want to bring their kids and pick up their kids and so it was very crowded that first day," said fourth-grade teacher David Eaton. "But its definitely resolved itself, its improved, the flow of traffic is a lot better and better getting the kids out and getting the kids here safely."

Another challenge has been taking the different personalities and learning cultures from other schools and meshing them into one cohesive group.

"One of the biggest challenges is bringing Wildwood kids, Pickwick kids, Douma kids - just getting to know their personalities, getting to know their needs," said Nikki Witt, fourth grade special education teacher at Liberty. "Basically that was the biggest challenge."

Liberty was designed with each grade in its own wing, and a shared learning community for teachers and students alike to collaborate.

"My third grade group meets twice a week, so we meet to plan, we meet to discuss how things are going and that's worked great," said teacher Stephanie Dostal. "We've really gotten a chance to get to know each other and we can help problem solve and we can help do lesson plans together to come up with good ideas for kids and which strategies work best."

"We collaborate a lot, there's a lot of teachers that come into my room to ask me questions and like I said, an answer's not too far away," Witt said.

"Our goal is to provide a quality education for every student and I think with us being able to work together collaboratively provides that opportunity," added Eaton.

And this is only the first year. New technology, developing programs and one great building will make Liberty a key player for education in Ottumwa for years to come.

"Having a new state-of-the-art building is wonderful to be able to have, everything's new and bright and cheerful and welcoming," Eaton said. "So it's nice to be in a facility that's such a positive place to be."

"Everything's just so fresh and new and the kids actually are really good about making sure that they take care of everything," Dostal said. "They know it's new and it's special and important and they want to keep it that way."