School district welcomes teachers ‘ready to make a big splash’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2000

About 40 new faces to the Natchez-Adams School District listened as Assistant Superintendent Mary Kate Garvin read them a story Wednesday morning. But the audience was not students, it was teachers. And the story, Dr. Seuss’ &uot;Oh, the Places You’ll Go,&uot; helped welcome the new and first-time teachers to the district as part of the Teacher Induction Program.

&uot;Today is your day,&uot; Garvin read. &uot;Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!&uot;

Wednesday was the first day of a three-day orientation where new teachers were introduced to district administration, assigned to mentors and treated to a continental breakfast.

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&uot;This is going to be a good year,&uot; Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis told the teachers. He also summarized some of the changes going on within the school system this year, including the Positive Choices discipline plan, surveillance cameras in some schools, new smoking policies and mandatory background checks. Davis also stressed cooperation among teachers.

&uot;Our basic goal is to make sure our children are successful in life,&uot; he said.

Garvin echoed Davis’ words on cooperation. &uot;We are a family; we are a team, and that’s the way we like to work,&uot; she said.

As part of the teamwork attitude, the Teacher Induction Program includes a mentoring plan where experienced teachers &uot;help new and beginning teachers make a successful transition from students of teaching to teachers of students,&uot; the program manual states.

Several of the first-time teachers said they appreciated the mentoring program.

&uot;It’ll make it easier take a lot of anxiety out of the beginning,&uot; said Ryan Curry, new art teacher for Morgantown and Frazier schools.

Another first-time teacher, Buddy Givens, said he has &uot;lots of questions&uot; for his mentor. &uot;You wish you could meet just the right person that could answer all those questions,&uot; he said.

An eighth-grade history teacher, Givens said everyone he has met within the district has been positive. &uot;They’re not just treading water but ready to make a big splash,&uot; he said.

Tricia Gill, first-time fifth-grade teacher at McLaurin Elementary School, said she is encouraged by the orientation and mentoring program, and it is helping ease her mixed feelings of &uot;excitement and anxiety.&uot;

&uot;It’s nice to know they have taken so much time and preparations,&uot; Gill said.

Vonnie Flaccomio, veteran third-grade teacher at McLaurin, will serve as a mentor to a new teacher.

&uot;The new teachers are lost and scared,&uot; she said. &uot;They need support and guidance.&uot;

Flaccomio said new teachers can ask any question, whether great or small, of their mentors.

&uot;It’s like we’re sisters,&uot; she said. &uot;They can ask any question without feeling put down.&uot;

Following the initial welcome session, the group loaded onto buses and toured the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and site-visited the district schools.

At least 15 of the new teachers are newcomers to the area. All the teachers were provided with a community resource packet including an area map, information on housing, public utilities, transportation and businesses, as well as recreation and medical facilities, social organizations and churches.