New teachers welcomed

Published 8:19 pm Monday, August 20, 2012

New teachers at Suffolk’s public schools enjoy a welcome breakfast at King’s Fork Middle School Monday. The event included words of encouragement and inspiration, as well as introductions of the new teachers by principals.

The start of the new school year is nerve-wracking for students facing new classes and other challenges, but it can also be stressful for new teachers to the district.

Suffolk Public Schools will welcome 78 new teachers into its classrooms this new school year. They were given a welcome breakfast at King’s Fork Middle School Monday.

“We’re proud of what we’re doing here in Suffolk,” School Board Chairman Michael Debranski told the lunchroom gathering.

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“We feel confident that we’re moving in the right direction (and) we want you to be part of our goals to improve our educational future.”

The number of new teachers is typical of previous years and “pretty evenly spread” across grade levels, district Human Resources Director Leigh Bennett said.

After the breakfast, and before getting down to actual classroom work, the teachers were to meet with administration finance folks about health benefits, and with Bennett herself in the afternoon on licensure and other “HR-related topics,” she said.

Later, they will learn about the curriculum and other related topics, before returning to their schools to start setting up their classrooms, she said.

“It can be a bit overwhelming,” Bennett said. “This is my 35th, and I still feel it a bit.”

One of the new educators is Charles Chamberlain, a Navy veteran set to become a third-grade teacher at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School.

“When I thought about the career options out there, I just thought teaching was an honorable profession,” Chamberlain said.

He said that some nerves are mixed in with his excitement, but that 14 weeks of work experience have prepared him well.

Dyamund Berry, who will teach biology at King’s Fork High, says she is “nervous but confident. I’m ready to get those kids started off on the right track.”

Amanda Carmelitano, who will teach psychology and U.S. history at King’s Fork High, said she looks forward to “working with the older kids, and getting them college-ready and giving them the confidence to succeed in their next step.”

Mayor Linda T. Johnson also spoke during the event, encouraging the teachers to make a difference in their students’ lives.

“The most important thing is, you are going to find that student … and you are going to help them find what they want to do in life, and you will be part of their ‘a-ha’ moment,” she said.

After some disappointing results in 2011 Standards of Learning assessments, Debranski also exhorted the teachers to be part of the solution.

“We know that the two areas we’re especially concerned with is reading and math,” he said.
“We expect everyone in here to be a reading teacher and a math teacher in their own way.”