DeKalb County School District Superintendent Steve Green boarded a bus in a Lithonia neighborhood before dawn Monday morning, intending to begin his day with students at nearby Bouie Elementary.
Instead, the bus he boarded took him to Browns Mill Elementary. The students and staff there were delighted by the surprise, though.
"It happens," said district spokesman Andre Riley, along for Green's first-day-of-school activities.
The start of the day went more smoothly for the district's 102,000 students, most returning class for the first time since May.
In another corner of the district, Markevius Kemp walked his first- and third-grader to class at Flat Shoals Elementary School in Decatur before heading to the first of his two jobs for the day. Kemp made waves last year when a district staffer snapped a shot of him with his boys, 8-year-old Marquez and 6-year-old Micah, in a hallway before he dropped them off. Flat Shoals participates in the Million Father March, a national effort started by the Chicago nonprofit The Black Star Project, where men are encouraged to support children on the first day of school as they begin a new year. Laconduas Freeman, Flat Shoals' principal, is a local organizer for the march.
"They're growing up," Kemp said Monday after dropping his kids off. "Their new teachers seem really good. The boys were excited to get to school."
His mom will greet the boys as they get off the bus from school in the afternoon, help them with any homework before he gets home late in the evening.
"I do anything I've got to do," he said of the grueling schedule.
Parents online pointed to bus delays as the one problem they endured on a cold and rainy morning. The bus taking Green to school was nearly 20 minutes late.
"It was supposed to be here at 6:30," he told parent Sabrina Roseberry, waiting with him on Great Meadows Road near Portsmouth Circle in Lithonia.
"Well, it's the first day of school," Roseberry said back.
"I know they were out there this weekend doing their runs," he replied.
For Green, he was there to take the bus on the first day of school to embed himself with the students, get a feel for their experience as they returned to class for the first day of school.
"I draw my energy from parents and children," Green said Monday morning. "As much as I hope they get inspiration from me, I get a lot of inspiration from them."