Mars helps parents deal with emotions

September 5, 2018 Cranberry Local News

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Parents and teachers await the arrival of students last Wednesday at the Mars Primary Center. Elizabeth McMahon, Mars School District assistant superintendent and Primary Center principal, greeted each student as they got off the bus.

ADAMS TWP — With new backpacks and lunch boxes in tow, students arriving at the Mars Primary Center for the first day of school last Wednesday were all smiles.

For some of their parents, however, the day brought other emotions.

Having seen the first day of school blues several times in her career, Elizabeth McMahon, Primary Center principal and district assistant superintendent, made sure the start of classes was an easy transition for everyone involved. She, along with hundreds of parents, greeted students as they exited buses.

Parents were permitted to escort their children to their classrooms, see their work spaces, and then were served a breakfast of “boo-hoo bagels.”

The concept is one McMahon created a decade ago.

“I noticed ... parents were crying, and that would start the little ones crying, and I can't have that,” she laughed.

The bagel breakfast is a chance for parents to let out those emotions away from their children and with other parents, which McMahon said is helpful.

“Those little ones are excited, but when they see mom or dad crying, then they think something is wrong,” she said.

McMahon was named principal for the year to fill a hole left by Todd Lape, who took over duties at the Mars Elementary School from the retiring Robert Zaccari. McMahon said she was excited to be back in the school, where she previously served as principal from 2005-14.

“When the parents said to me, 'Oh my gosh, we're so excited for kindergarten,' I said, 'Not as excited as we are,'” she said.

Wes Shipley, district superintendent, said the first day of classes went “great.” He said his motto for himself and the staff for the year is, “we have great things to do.”

“I feel like we took a strong first step in accomplishing some great things already,” he said. “Our teachers and staff have gone above and beyond to help create a climate of caring and support for our students and it showed in every interaction.”

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