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43 new ISD 518 members kicking off school year

WORTHINGTON -- The 2017-2018 Independent School District 518 school year got underway on Monday for the district's 43 new staff members. District 518 Director of Teaching and Learning Katie Clarke said this is the largest group of new staff membe...

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Prairie Elementary Principal Heidi Meyer gets the district's new elementary teachers acclimated with the building on Monday, the first day of this week's orientation for the district's 43 new staff members. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The 2017-2018 Independent School District 518 school year got underway on Monday for the district’s 43 new staff members.

 

District 518 Director of Teaching and Learning Katie Clarke said this is the largest group of new staff members entering the district in at least the last six years.

 

Not all of the new teachers are filling vacated positions.

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“We’ve added a lot of positions each year for the growing enrollment,” District 518 Induction Facilitator and Peer Coach Tessa Dierks said.

 

Nine new positions were created this year. Dierks said new staff is dispersed about equally between the district’s four facilities: Prairie Elementary, the middle school, the high school and Area Learning Center.

 

The new teachers are learning about the district and preparing to serve students during this week’s orientation program.  

 

“It really comes down to the kids,” Clarke said of the purpose of the orientation program. “We want to best prepare the teachers to best help our kids.”

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The orientation program not only allows the new teachers to get an introduction to the district, but to get to know their fellow teachers.

 

“They get to know other staff within the district so they have some allies when they go into the classroom and don’t feel like they’re alone,” Dierks said.

 

One of their biggest allies will be the mentor they’re paired with. Mentors are chosen by each buildings’ administrators, Dierks said.

 

Fourth grade teacher Steph Fletcher has been both a mentee and mentor and will again be a mentor this year. What’s awesome about the year-round mentorship program, she said, is that it provides new teachers with a go-to person to answer questions.

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“Or to point them in the direction to someone who can answer their question,” she added.

 

Worthington-area organizations and businesses also helped welcome the new teachers.

 

The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce distributed goody bags which included items and information from about 30 area businesses. The YMCA also visited with the group, and the Noon Kiwanis hosted the new teachers for lunch on Tuesday.

 

Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darlene Macklin said it’s very important for the Chamber to help welcome the new teachers to Worthington.

 

“We want to make them feel as warm and welcome when they come to a new community, because we know what it’s like,” she said. “It’s not always easy moving to a new community.”

 

Clarke said the district is grateful for the support and outreach from area businesses.

 

“Beyond coming to teach for 518, we want people to find this as a home,” she said. “We want them to be happy, we want them to use and explore the community and stay a really long time.”

 

The community’s engagement also helps the new teachers develop contacts outside of the district, Dierks added.

 

“And that’s key to making them feel at home,” she said.

 

A new activity will conclude the orientation program on Thursday. New teachers, including second and third year teachers, are invited to partake in a 6 p.m. family potluck at Centennial Park.

 

All staff will return to the district next week for in-service. Students in grades five through 12 will return Sept. 5, and kindergarten through fourth grade will resume on Sept. 6.

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