VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – While many districts across our viewing area are on day five of classes, teachers in Virginia Beach are putting the final touches on their classrooms to prepare for students.

From technology guru to classroom botanist, students are the focus of Ms. Corie Olenych’s third-grade classroom. Olenych is entering her eighth year as an educator. She started at Tallwood Elementary School, but now she is part of the Glenwood Elementary School team.

“I have a passion for teaching,” said Olenych. “I love when students love to learn.” 

Olenych’s mother was a teacher and she says that influenced her to pursue a career in education. Connecting with parents and former students keeps her motivated.

“I’ve heard many teachers in the hallway where students have come back to them year and years later,” Olenych explained. “I’m starting to experience that. So some of my students that are in middle school are reaching back out to me and it’s just —that’s my why. It’s a wonderful feeling.” 

Getting through the pandemic was difficult, but Olenych says she is ready for the upcoming year. “My goal this year is to create an environment where they feel safe to learn, make, safe to succeed, but also safe to fail,” said Olenych. “So we’ve got a lot a lot of work ahead of us.”

Virginia Beach City Public Schools start class after Labor Day.