BENTLEY — Carol Holmes welcomed her 30th class into her classroom at Bentley Elementary Aug. 15, the first day of school for Halstead USD 440. 

As her students came to her classroom excited about the year ahead, it was hard to tell who was more excited — them, or their teacher.

"I feel like this year I have really reinvented myself as a teacher," Holmes said. "I am really excited coming into this year."

Holmes shows no signs of slowing down, even after 30 years in the classroom and more than 40 years in the teaching profession.

Holmes earned a master's degree in educational psychology and started her teaching career working with special needs students through a cooperative. She moved from school to school. That, however, just did not seem like the right fit. 

"I had a passion and desire to be in the regular classroom," Holmes said.

She applied for a second-grade position in Halstead USD 440, and got it. She said more than 100 teachers applied for the position, something she found surprising. 

She has been teaching in Bentley ever since, a place she believes is very special.

"We have a different kind of culture here," Holmes said. "It is very protective. It is very much about the young child and oriented to the needs of a primary or young child. We have an amazing staff here passionate about working with young children."

During her time in Bentley she has watched the building get added on to, grade level configurations change and people come and go. The biggest change, she says, is how the school is using technology.

"Technology changes everything," she said. "It is not just interactive whiteboards. I have a cart here with 30 Chromebooks in it and we use them every day with our kids. We integrate them into math instruction and reading instruction ... It is not just them learning to watch, they are interacting with it."

She has taken that in stride, embracing the technology and other new things that come along.

"She is vital,"said Adam Conard, principal of the building. "Youhave to know where you have been, where you are headed and the direction that our veteran teachers are invaluable. ... This staff is very in tune with where education is going."

This year the school is starting a STEM lab, a room where every child will spend a little time every day.

"The kids are going to love it," Holmes said.