Eldersburg — The new kid in school needs plenty of support and the same can be said for new teachers.
Just over 100 teachers new to Carroll County gathered bright and early Friday at Century High School for new teacher orientation. Some were first-year teachers, while others brought years of experience as they moved to a new school district.
First-year teacher Kristy Firelli and art teacher Karen Langevin, who is moving to Carroll County Public Schools from Howard County, were seated at the same table during morning registration.
Firelli expressed her excitement to start setting up her first-grade classroom, which she has only been able to see through a window so far.
Langevin, who will be split between three different schools in the upcoming year, said she was glad that new teachers have extra pre-service professional days.
“They really do need all that time to set up,” she said.
During his welcoming remarks, new CCPS Superintendent Steven Lockard asked teachers to raise their hands if they had attended Carroll County Public Schools. At least a quarter of those gathered did.
Two of those were Zauhn Lewis and Tyler Witte, who attended Winters Mill High School together. Lewis will teach Foundations of Technology at Manchester Valley High and Witte is a counselor at Northwest Middle. Because he worked for the school system before on an hourly basis, Witte said the orientation day was probably much more relaxed for him.
Both were most excited to meet their students and start getting to know them.
Along with the teachers, Lockard also marks his first year as superintendent with CCPS, though he is a former student, having graduated from Westminster High School.
The people in the schools, he stressed, are what make them stand out in the state and the nation.
“I see the human capital that exists in Carroll County Public Schools, and it is outstanding,” Lockard said.
As a former classroom teacher himself, he offered advice, urging the educators to focus on building relationships with students and colleagues, to stay persistent in challenging times, to take time to care for themselves and to “teach up” to challenge students.
“No one cares what you know until they know how much you care,” he said, vouching for the truth of the familiar phrase. “Nobody’s perfect, so let your students know you care about them on their best days and on their worst days.”
Speakers, including Carroll County Education Association President Teresa McCulloh and Board of Education members Bob Lord and Virginia Harrison, also welcomed the group to their new roles.
“This school [system] is a community,” Harrison said.
She also echoed Lockard’s advice for the teachers to pay attention to their own health and well-being.
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“Take care of yourself and you can do for everyone else,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steven Johnson led a humorous introduction to the administrative and supervisory staff.
Along with the fun, the day’s sessions also included serious topics like reporting child abuse and school security.
Mona Becker, who also serves as a Westminster Common Council member, was one of the new teachers who were not so new, returning to CCPS after a few years away.
She will be splitting the year between Winters Mill and Liberty high schools and was excited to get back into it.
Emily Mello has years of teaching experience also, but just moved to Carroll, where she will teach Spanish at Oklahoma Road Middle. She said she was drawn to Carroll because the county has a reputation for excellence. Though she will be taking on a full schedule of 12 classes, she said her new classroom is “beautiful” and she is looking forward to learning her students names.
“Middle school has a great energy,” she said.