Miller School Principal Jim Bissin, left, and new home room teacher Kim Oliveras speak to students on the first day of school Monday. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk Photo)

Elementary and junior high students in Santa Maria headed back to school Monday, along with more than 100 newly hired teachers in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District.

Back-to-school seemed to come early this year in northern Santa Barbara County, as more than 14,400 students swelled into 15 elementary and four junior high schools bright and early Monday morning.

Students in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District kick off fall classes Tuesday, followed by Orcutt Academy High School on Wednesday.

The rest of Orcutt Union School District goes back to school next week, with South Coast schools starting classes the week of Aug. 26.

Miller Elementary kindergarten teacher Fe Demition was among the 104 new full-time teachers hired this fall by the Santa Maria-Bonita district, which was expecting about 400 new students for its 15th consecutive year of enrollment growth.

New teachers were also brought on to replace 41 veteran teachers who opted into an early retirement plan last spring.

Demition enthusiastically readied her classroom last week for Monday’s arrival of her first-ever regular class of students — previously she had only taught Saturday or migrant school in her seven years with the district.

On Monday, hundreds of students and their parents navigated the Miller campus in search of their homerooms and new teachers.

“I am excited,” she told Noozhawk. “I’m a little scared of the expectations. As a new teacher, there’s so much information to apply, and teaching the students the common core.”

The pressure lessened after Demition realized she would be beginning the school year with so many other newbies.

“The support is overwhelming,” she added. “We’re just very fortunate to have this job. I’ve talked to many of the new teachers. They’re excited.”

Miller Elementary Principal Jim Bissin, who moved this fall from Battles Elementary, successfully assisted families who arrived Monday — the payoff from weeks of meticulous preparation.

“The kids come whether you’re ready or not,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.