The upcoming school year isn't just new for the incoming students in the Harford County public school system, but for many teachers as well.
The school system hired 175 new teachers for various schools throughout the county, school system Manager of Communications Teri Kranefeld wrote in an e-mail last week. As parents and students stock up on supplies and mentally prepare for a new year, so do these teachers.
Edgewood Middle School is welcoming several new teachers this year, including those new to the school or new to teaching in general.
The 2011-12 school year is completely new to Kimberly Houck, as is Harford County Public Schools. Houck graduated with a master's degree from Goucher College in May and is starting this year as a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Edgewood Middle School.
"This is my first very own classroom," she said with a grin.
Houck, who has been in Edgewood for eight years, sat on one of the students' desks at the front of the triangle shaped classroom before briefly joining department chairman Joel Tracy to help set up her own desk and armoire.
Teaching in a middle school isn't what she originally "aspired" to do, Houck said, but that all changed in a group interview with Board of Education President Leonard Wheeler and several other school officials.
"I really got this very home feeling," Houck said, later adding that it was a hard-to-describe feeling but definitely "palpable."
Although grade level may have been undecided, teaching never was for Houck and neither was the subject. Being able to teach students is one thing, she said, but "it's another to feel like you want to come to work."
"Every day that I come in, I still want to love coming in to Edgewood Middle," she said.
Teaching language arts was a given for the book lover, who said she had been preparing for the school year since she was still in class herself. When the local Borders closed, she purchased a spinning book rack and for weeks has been picking up a variety of books for her classroom.
Her biggest pet peeve, she said, is an English room without books. Houck is stocking hers with all different types, she added, mentioning Spiderman and manga genres.
"I will have things that they want to read," she said.
Even though it is her first year, Houck said she is "not nervous," rather excited to be starting at Edgewood Middle and happy to have a job, especially within a school system she praised frequently.
"They're all so nice," she said. "You can't beat that."
Upstairs, in the largest classroom of the school, Edward Svec sat on the red and black bleachers of Edgewood Middle School's gymnasium. Svec has been a long-term substitute before, he said Tuesday, but this is his first full-time position.
"I feel a little overwhelmed with the new teacher stuff," he said, referencing the training and a recent four-day conference where he "learned a lot."
Overall, however, Svec said he is excited to start with the students "fresh" and to "build routines" from the first day of school.
A Harford County native, Svec graduated in January from Towson University with a bachelor's degree before filling in as a substitute teacher at Patterson Mill for a day and then a long-term position finishing out the year at Edgewood Middle School.
He always knew he wanted to teach, Svec said, but started off focusing on history before switching to a major in physical education.