Newness, excitement, joy and some jitters filled the air Wednesday at Sumter School District's New Teacher Orientation at Crestwood High School.
This year, the district has 173 new certified classroom teachers in Sumter County, according to …
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This year, the district has 173 new certified classroom teachers in Sumter County, according to district staff, one of the highest new teacher totals in recent years.
District administration said they're happy with the additions given the state teacher shortage and the number of vacancies the district had last school year, and they rolled out the welcome mat to all at the Fine Arts Center at Crestwood on Wednesday morning.
Kevin Grant, 23 and fresh out of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, was one new teacher in attendance.
Grant grew up in Dalzell and is a 2013 Crestwood graduate. In his elementary school years, Grant attended High Hills Elementary School on Shaw Air Force Base.
He will be back there this year as a fifth-grade English/language arts teacher. In his senior year at Crestwood, Grant was drum major of the high school's marching band, and he said he will help out some with the band this year.
He said he's a little concerned with the workload that teachers have and hopes he can meet the expectations necessary to help his students succeed. His strengths are his positive attitude he brings to the classroom, he said, and writing and grammar are his strong suits.
Grant said returning home to Sumter School District was his first choice and that he couldn't be happier.
"This is definitely a dream come true," Grant said. "I wanted to start off as a teacher back at home and give back to the community that helped me."
Husband and wife Derick and Jessica Smith are both new teachers in the district after moving their family from Georgia. They said they're excited about the move to Sumter.
Derick will be a high school special education teacher at Lakewood High School and assistant football coach for the Gators. Jessica will be a fourth-grade teacher at Millwood Elementary School.
Derick Smith said teaching and coaching are similar in that you have to build relationships with the kids in both.
He said he's comfortable going into a Title I (lower-income, higher-poverty) school and that he knows the needs of the students.
"I may be the only kind of parent they have," Smith said. "I've got to be some kind of role model for them, to hold them accountable for their actions because one day they may be a parent."
After breakfast and a welcome from Chief Human Resources Officer John Koumas, Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm gave a welcome message to those in attendance.
All first-year teachers in the district who haven't taught previously participate in an induction program, where they have the assistance of a mentor and learn effective instructional strategies.
Three district induction teachers of the year from last year, now in their second year of teaching, also gave a morning presentation to all new teachers. Topics included tips for teachers, parental involvement and building relationships with students.
After the initial activities, the new teachers split up for six break-out sessions for the remainder of the day. Those sessions covered the state's new teacher evaluation system, tiered-intervention strategies for students and curriculum and technology working together, among others.
With all the recent months' hiring, the district is down to 29 classroom teacher vacancies as of Wednesday. Trevor Ivey, the district's new director of teacher recruitment and retention, said the district hired about 60 teachers during the summer.
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