When we received Steph's class placement back in June, the new teacher had enclosed a very nice letter introducing herself and even including a photo of herself from third grade. She gave her address and asked that each kid send her a postcard this summer, and mentioned that she'd be setting up the classroom in mid-August and hoped we would pop in to meet her. Steph sent a postcard from the Cape, and she got back a very nice handwritten response.
So yesterday we went in and got to meet her. She is pretty, young, cheerful, warm—all the things that matter (at least initially) to an impressionable eight-and-two-thirds-years-old girl. That kind of thing goes a long way at this age. I just hope she can handle all the rotten kids in that class, because kids can always tell when a teacher or other authority figure is not in control. I'm still pessimistic about the social situation, though.