08/10/10 — District welcomes newest teachers

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District welcomes newest teachers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 10, 2010 1:46 PM
Last update on: August 11, 2010 12:33 PM

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Troy Herring

Gail Sasser smiles as she walks down an aisle to hand new Wayne County teacher Montrine Boykin a book on how to manage the classroom during a seminar for new teachers early Monday morning.

With the start of a new school year comes the arrival of new and first-time teachers.

The trick is in finding ways to keep them, educators say.

Wayne County School Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said exit interviews have shown that a lack of support has been one glaring reason teachers have left the job.

In recent years, the Wayne County Public Schools, with help from the county Chamber of Commerce and the Wayne Education Network, have joined forces to create a better atmosphere for beginning teachers.

On Monday, WEN held a "new teacher welcome breakfast" at Wayne Middle/High Academy. It is the first of many such events, organizers said.

"We came here to welcome you to Wayne County, to Wayne County Public Schools," said WEN Chairman Dr. Ed Wilson. "Our goal is to help provide support to the schools of Wayne County ... getting business and industry involved in education."

In addition to school officials and chamber members, representatives from PULSE, a young professionals group for 21-40-year-olds, were also on hand to support the newest group of educators.

"We're very excited to give these young people a good face when they come to Wayne County," said Beverly Carroll, teacher recruitment/retention chairman, who praised area businesses for donating an array of food items and flowers for the breakfast.

In addition to the social aspect of the kick-off, there was continued training for the new teachers. For many of them, staff development efforts began last week, when the district held a three-day summer institute covering a variety of topics.

"What we're trying to do is make you as good as you can be," Taylor said.

Expressing appreciation to chamber Director Steve Hicks , he said the collaborative effort was essential.

"The last few years we have been working hard to try to show the folks of Wayne County that we care," Taylor told the audience. "We want you to feel the support, not only from the schoolhouse, but from the community."

Officials estimated the number of new teachers at about 80.

"It's really more than I actually expected, but we had a lot of retirements and we had a lot of late resignations due to the military families or husband and wives," said Debbie Durham, the school system's director of human resources and physical education. "We're really excited. We have fewer lateral entry teachers (and) the majority are already licensed in the state of North Carolina.

"We do have several from Michigan and New York and we have a lot who have military connections."

Tracy Turner of Grifton recently graduated from N.C. State University and will be teaching agriculture at Spring Creek High.

"Wayne County was close to home and I have always wanted to stay close to home," she said of her choice.

She did her student teaching at Spring Creek, which "takes a little of the scariness away," she said.

"I love the school. It was small and it was very welcoming and people were helpful," she said.

The bonus training before she enters the classroom has also been a plus, she admitted.

"It has been very helpful and I know Wayne County does a lot more than a lot of other counties. I'm very pleased with that. They really try to cater to the first-year teachers."

Laura Crisp and Sarah Hendry were both recruited from Michigan, although did not know one another before arriving to Wayne County.

"I have always wanted to teach here (in North Carolina)," said Ms. Crisp, who said she has family in Garner.

The job market in Michigan is not advantageous to students majoring in education, she explained. Professors, in fact, cautioned them that there weren't jobs for teachers there.

Ms. Crisp, hired as a sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher at Norwayne Middle School, said she has much to look forward to in her new role.

"What I would like to see is the light coming on when they first understand how to do something or learning a concept," she said.

Ms. Henry, a sixth-grade science and math teacher at Grantham, was enticed by one of the teaching learning coaches from Wayne County she met at the job fair at Michigan State University.

"I really liked her," she recalls. "I came down and visited and really liked Wayne County."

This will not be the first year of teaching for Myra Johnson, but it might as well be.

"I was hired like two days before school last year," said the exceptional children's teacher at Charles B. Aycock High School, where she'll return this year.

The former teacher assistant -- for 17 years in Wayne County -- she returned to school to further her education, doing her student teaching at CBA.

It's been a big change having her own classroom, she said. And certainly having advance training makes a difference.

"It's going to be a big relief this year," she said. "I did not get any of this new teacher training last year. I walked in one day before the students last year. ... I'm just thrilled to start."