New Teachers

LeAnn Schueneman, a fourth-grade teacher at Bel Air Elementary School, is calling her classroom "Schuville," a play on her name and the town of "Whoville" in Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead / August 18, 2013)

LeAnn Schueneman's 23 fourth-graders will not only be entering a classroom when they come back to school Monday, but also their home away from home, to be known as "Schuville."

"My room is going to be known as Schuville," the first-year teacher at Bel Air Elementary School said Tuesday.

The name is a combination of her last name and the fictional burg of Whoville, the setting of the Dr. Seuss children's classic, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Schueneman, one of two new teachers at Bel Air Elementary for the 2013-2014 school year, was in her room Tuesday afternoon, putting up decorations, including inspirational lines from Dr. Seuss stories.

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"I think there's important messages [in the stories]," she said. "I also think that they're identifiable characters."

A poster with the line "A person's a person no matter how small," from "Horton Hears a Who," was placed above the door.

"I want my students to feel like this is their second home, and I'm going to present it to them that way," Schueneman explained.

Schueneman and her fellow new teacher are among 43 teachers at Bel Air Elementary, which serves 505 students; the school also has 22 support staffers as well as Principal Dyann Mack, Assistant Principal Rose Martino and Melissa Surgeon, the instructional facilitator.

Mack said the two new teachers are filling vacant slots in the school staff; she said Bel Air was able to maintain the name number of teachers as last year.

The members of the Harford County Board of Education approved in June cuts of more than 100 positions system-wide to help reconcile Harford County Public Schools' budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

Mack said two teaching slots at Bel Air Elementary opened after two former teachers resigned.

"We were able to hire for those two vacancies," she said.

Mack said Bel Air has "a very stable staff," and some teachers have been at the school for decades.

The principal noted the veteran teachers' former students are now grown up, and their children are being taught by those same educators.

"They're getting another generation of children coming in," Mack said.

Schueneman was preparing for her first generation of students.

"I really want to make my classroom a warm and inviting learning space for my students," she said.

Schueneman grew up in Topeka, Ks., but has lived in Harford County for eight years. Her husband is stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and she has two children, one who will be a freshman at Bel Air High School and one who will be a seventh grader at Bel Air Middle School.

She has previous experience working in the Harford County schools, starting as a substitute teacher, and then as an inclusion helper at Forest Hill Elementary School from 2007 to 2010.

She spent much of her time assisting special education students.