KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s the first day back to school for thousands of students across the Kansas City metro, and teachers at Douglas Elementary in Kansas City, Kansas, are excited to welcome them back for a new year.

“I just really want to see them grow and excel in their learning and in their social life,” first grade teacher Kathryn Briscoe said. “And I’m really excited to get to know each and every one of them and get to know their interests and stuff like that.”

The school is rolling out several new programs for students this year, including a dual language program to help with further learning.

“We always look for you know increased student achievement, student learning, that’s first and foremost,” Principal Dr. Louis Neil said.

“But then just making sure you know coming off the pandemic, coming off some different social challenges that our kids are prepared to handle those things.”

The Kansas City, Kansas, School District is the fourth-largest district in the metro, with more than 20,000 students across all its schools. Seasoned 5th grade teacher Velda Martin said she’s focusing on teaching her students independence and responsibility throughout the new year.

“We are actually just getting them into the routines of what it’s like to be a fifth grader and to be a fifth grader is more independent than any other grade in the building,” Martin said.

“I think each kid is just unique in their own way, and I love to make a positive difference on their lives, and I’m really excited to build those relationships with them especially these first few days,” Briscoe said.

Remaining students who didn’t have school on Wednesday had their first official day on Thursday.