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‘I think we’ve chosen well and so have you’: Carroll schools welcome new teachers

‘I think we’ve chosen well and so have you’: Carroll schools welcome new teachers
Amanda Stone, left, who is an incoming second grade teacher at Friendship Valley Elementary School, talks to Teresa McCulloh of the Carroll County Education Association during new teacher orientation for Carroll County Public Schools at Winters Mill High School in Westminster Thursday, August 15, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Winters Mill High School was the host Thursday morning as Carroll County Public Schools welcomed in a new guard of teachers for the 2019-20 school year.

Teachers come in with different backgrounds — from first-year teachers directly out of college, to those making a career change, to those with significant years of experience moving from another school district.

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Chief of Schools Cindy McCabe said about a third of the new teachers are moving from another school system to Carroll County, a higher percentage than the norm. That feels like a positive that a teacher would be willing to leave an established position to come to Carroll, she said.

Director of Human Resources Chantress Baptist said there are about 100 new teachers this year.

Christine Amundson, a special education teacher at Winfield Elementary, has 15 years of experience teaching and moved to CCPS when her family moved to the area from New Jersey.

She is excited to move to the elementary level because of how much students at that age tend to enjoy learning and celebrating even the smallest accomplishments. Her first order of business before students return is organizing — both her physical classroom and looking into the Individualized Education Program for each of her students.

Jaspreet Channa and Mindy Richards previously worked together in Baltimore County and happened to move together to Carroll County this year.

Channa, who worked as a substitute in Carroll previously, starts full-time at Westminster High School. She said she was questioning whether to remain in teaching or change fields, and a mentor recommended that she try moving to Carroll. For parents, she hopes they know that “their involvement is necessary for their child’s success.”

Richards, who will be at Sykesville Middle, said the teaching profession is hard work that doesn’t stop at the end of the school day. The summer months are needed to recuperate and prepare.

Familiar faces from Carroll spoke to welcome the new teachers, including Baptist, schools Superintendent Steve Lockard, Board of Education member Tara Battaglia and Carroll County Education Association President Teresa McCulloh.

“I think we’ve chosen well and so have you,” Lockard said, addressing the room. He characterized CCPS as a dynamic school system and said their motto “Together it is possible” is a sincere expression of their values. Reaching out for help and collaborating are signs of strength, not weakness, he said.

He said it is their desire to support teachers and hopefully retain them in the county. “This is a long-term investment and we want you to be here for many years.”

The second half of the day was spent in breakout workshops dealing with HR matters and other official business that would set the teachers up to get started.

Emily Wood, an incoming social studies teacher at North Carroll Middle School, is one of the first-year teachers and also was a product of CCPS, having graduated from Francis Scott Key. She still remembers her own social studies teachers who helped keep her engaged in the subject, and she hopes to bring the same passion to her students.

When she got to see her classroom for the first time, “It felt surreal,” she said. It was something she has been working toward since she was in high school. Next on her list is to arrange the desks, which for now are still stacked in the center of the room.

Tate Myers, who will split his time among three different elementary schools as a health teacher, is also in his first year, though he is familiar with Carroll after student teaching as a McDaniel College student.

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With that kind of schedule, does he consider himself an organized person?

“I’m going to have to be,” he said.

McCabe, alongside the teachers, is looking at a new role this year after moving from her position as head of elementary schools. It’s a learning experience, she said, as she brushes up on the secondary education aspects of the system. One of her priorities has been meeting with the principals she will be working with and building a strong network there.

Similarly, she hoped the teachers would use the orientation day to start networking and learning about the resources available to them.

“The level of support — that’s one of the things that makes our system stand out,” she said.

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