Moffat County educators get educated at orientation
Stephanie Harvey likened starting her new job with the Moffat County School District to buying a house.
“It was ‘sign here, sign here,'” she said about the first day of new employee orientation.
Harvey will teach science at Moffat County High School. She and the 19 other new hires spent Monday in the school administration building’s board–room, filling out paperwork as the first part of a two-day orientation.
To Harvey, who has been teaching for 18 years, the process hasn’t yet been overwhelming, but it likely soon will be.
“There’s no way it can’t,” Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.
Learning everything including how to access voicemail and the district’s professional learning communities model is bound to be intimidating, he said.
The day was “busy,” high school algebra and geometry teacher Jeffery Schlim said. It also was “fun and exciting,” he said, but he admitted to being a little nervous.
Krista Schenck admitted to being a lot nervous.
She has worked for the district as a substitute teacher and is starting this year full time at the high school.
“It’s going to be a tough year,” she said.
Bergmann said the school district does everything it can to ease the transition for new teachers.
They start with “induction classes,” in which new employees learn about the district’s benefits and get a crash course in technology as well as lessons about including English Language Learners, coping with special education needs, understanding the Colorado Student Assessment Program and devising strategies for handling behavioral problems.
A part of the day was spent at the buildings where each teacher will work, learning about policies and the day-to-day operations of each school.
“We do everything we can to get them up to speed with the way we do things in the Moffat County School District,” Bergmann said. “The key is to give them enough information at the right pace and volume. I think our process is pretty comprehensive.”
Each new teacher is assigned a mentor and gets additional support from his or her collaborative team — a group of similar-subject teachers who meet weekly to discuss strategies.
“We give them the survival skills to get through, but they’ll work with their mentor throughout the year,” Bergmann said.
He said new teachers have called their mentors “lifesavers.”
“It’s a really positive experience,” he said.
A picnic follows the first day of orientation to help employees feel more comfortable and “to make sure they know we’re welcoming them, so that there’s that personal connection, as well,” Bergmann said. “Teaching is hard enough, but for new teachers, there’s a huge volume of stuff — personally and professionally — on their plates.”
Several new teachers recently moved to Craig, so not only are they setting up classrooms and learning about the school district, but they’re also looking for homes and unpacking furniture.
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