Jaylen Joiner shows his parents he's ready for school by displaying his first completed homework assignment given by teacher Theresa Gilbert at "Meet the Teacher" night. (Crowley Star/Kyp Shillam)
Danny Vaughn was not even in the Bess Race Elementary parking lot when his voice could be heard above the clamor of cars searching for that elusive parking spot Monday morning.


"I don't want to go," pleaded the dark eyed doll. "Don't make me go!"


Patient and understanding, mom and dad continued to walk forward with smiles, coaxing their son to follow suit. Kindergarten was waiting.


"It's his first day away from us," Daniel Vaughn, Sr. said while holding two boxes of AlphaBits cereal for Danny's classroom. "He didn't qualify for pre-K because they said we made too much money, so he has been home with his mom. They have a special bond. He went to meet the teacher night and seemed fine, but today he's got the realization that this is it."



Inside the building, Kinder students and their parents fill the library awaiting their turn to be called back to the classroom. Jaylen Joiner enjoyed the final few moments with his parents, showing off this first homework assignment.


"It's a picture of me. I made it for Mrs. Gilbert's class. I have yellow shoes because they match these," Jaylen said, plopping a neon yellow tennis shoe on the child-sized table and opening his primary color backpack. "I got some paper and a pencil box in my backpack. Why is there a flashlight in here, daddy?"


Down the hall in Elizabeth Bookwalter's classroom, Ayden Maldonado has settled into his desk and begins to color as mom's eyes mist over.


"He's so sweet and really smart and kind," Amanda Flores said of her mop-topped son. "I'm happy that he gets to learn and make friends because he's very social, but he's my only child."


Mom will have to share Ayden's affections as the boy admits candidly, "Miss Bookwalter is pretty."


Also fighting back tears is Bonnie Gill, a CISD teacher and coach at North Crowley 9th Grade Center. Along with husband Clayton, the head athletic trainer at NCHS, Gill can's stop snapping pictures of daughter, Addie, who is firmly planted at her diminutive desk.


"She's my last one," Gill said, blinking fast and furious. "She's so excited but it's hard for me. It's a sign of growing up."


The Gills slip away as teacher Theresa Gilbert comforts new student, Jonah Bannister, who has just discovered his mom is no longer in the room. The tears are flowing as she encourages him.


"I had to leave my mom in Kindergarten too. It was hard," she told the snuffling boy.


Armed with a hot pink backpack, Dakota Proctor is ready for what lies ahead.


"I'm ready to learn," she said. "I got my school clothes, my school supplies…"


"And a good night's sleep," chimed in mom, Melissa, taking her daughter's hand and heading down the hall as dad smiles good-bye.


"It's all good," he said. "All good."