In with the new …
Published 11:13 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Clay Scott will be a new Spanish teacher at King’s Fork High School when classes start Sept. 3, but it’s not like he’s never walked into a classroom and cried ¡hola!
“I’m a veteran (teacher) new to Suffolk,” Scott said Tuesday outside King’s Fork Middle School’s auditorium, following a Suffolk Public Schools orientation session for its new recruits.
The educator of eight years said he has worked in many independent schools and also taught with Franklin City Public Schools and in a boarding school.
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At the end of Tuesday, school district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw confirmed 72 new teacher orientations and 18 vacancies left to fill before classes start.
According to Barbara Patterson, professional development specialist for the district, the new recruits are evenly split between teachers with three or more years’ experience, and those with two or less.
“We have hired five people in the last two days,” Patterson said Tuesday. “Usually by this time everyone is hired.”
She attributed the bloom in hiring to the city’s decision to grant only a third of the district’s request for extra funds, resulting in the shelving of both a 2-percent raise for all staff and — a gambit meant to stop them leaving Suffolk for better-paying districts — an additional boost for mid-career educators.
Consequently, Patterson said, “We lost a lot of teachers to other divisions. It means that toward the end (of summer), we are hiring more and more teachers that are right out of college.”
One recruit new to teaching is Alex Perez, a Texas A&M graduate who will instruct social studies at Lakeland High School.
Perez, who graduated from high school in Chesapeake, described this week’s orientation as a learning experience.
“I feel like I have a small idea (of what to expect), but as the year progresses, definitely it’s going to be a little bit more to learn,” he said.
SPS pairs each new teacher with a mentor, which Perez views as an opportunity to continue “to develop the skills to be a good teacher.”
Clare Ernest, another new recruit also new to the profession, will teach at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School.
“It’s a very well-ordered orientation … they give you a lot of support,” Ernest said.
Sharon Eley joined Scott in representing teachers new to Suffolk Public Schools but not strangers to the profession.
“I’ve been teaching for 20 years,” Eley said. “I’ve heard so many wonderful, wonderful things about Suffolk and how they’re changing, new strategies and things they are putting in place, and I’m just excited about that.”
For Scott, he said he decided to join SPS after a lack of “obnoxious questions” during the interview process.
“I find that often the administration in public education can be cumbersome and sometime impedes teachers in their work,” he said.
“The King’s Fork administrator … didn’t ask what I would call more obnoxious questions. That told me straight away, this is a place that’s going to let teachers teach.”