Seventy new county schools teachers gathered this week for the system’s annual Teacher Induction Program (TIP), a two-day conference focusing on teacher quality and the system’s overall mission.
The yearly event got its start in the mid-1990s, and Superintendent Scott Cowart said it’s been a success ever since.
“We try to induct our teachers instead of orient them,” Cowart said. “This isn’t about learning where their classrooms are and those kinds of things. It’s more concerned with learning what Carroll County Schools is all about and our mission in education.”
Cowart said it’s the system’s opportunity to put the “best foot forward” with the new educators.
“This is an important time because, just like with school, you only get one shot at the first day,” he said. “It’s the same with these teachers — we only get one chance to make a first impression.”
This year’s TIP was especially important to get new teachers up to speed on the new standards the schools will be teaching when school starts back Aug. 13.
This year, educators across Georgia will begin teaching the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) in mathematics, English language arts, as well as literacy in science, social studies and technical subjects.
The CCGPS are part of the Common Core State Standards, a state-led initiative with a goal of establishing a uniform set of expectations for what students will learn no matter what school they attend. The standards have been adopted by 46 states, the U.S. Department of Defense’s education programs and three U.S. territories. Georgia formally adopted the standards in July 2010 and Georgia educators have been training on them since March 2011.
Rebecca Manley, a University of West Georgia biology graduate who will start teaching physical science this year at Villa Rica High School, said she appreciates the new standards because they take some of the pressure off her job.
“The unknown things about starting are overwhelming,” she said, “but the new standards make it much easier.”
Manley, who graduated from Central High School in 2007 and taught at Mill Creek High School last semester, said her lesson plans are “pretty much done” for her at Villa Rica High and that she can focus on other things instead of worrying about what she’s going to teach the next week.
Luke McLendon graduated from Villa Rica High School and will teach at Villa Rica Elementary this year. McLendon, who graduated from Point University in Atlanta, will teach fifth grade English language arts.
“I’m right back where I started,” McLendon said. “I started in Villa Rica Primary, then to the elementary, then Bay Springs Middle, then Villa Rica High.”
McLendon agreed with Manley on the new standards, saying he thinks it’s a “good plan” and especially good for first-year teachers.
The program, sponsored by SMI, College and Career Academy, Georgia Association of Educators, ValuTeacher, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, BB&T and Wells Fargo, focused its breakout session Thursday afternoon on collaborative team-based improvement on the process to monitor student progress.
The “new blood,” as Cowart described them, brings new talent to the system.
“There’s nothing like the excitement at the beginning of the year,” Cowart said. “If teachers can’t get excited about the start of the school year, then they probably shouldn’t be teachers.”
School board Chairman Dr. Jon Anderson spoke to the group of teachers, saying he and the board are assigned the task of getting as much education out of every dollar spent.
“We have the challenge of spending dollars seriously, and that includes you all as well,” he said. “You have 176 calendar days this year, which is roughly 1,230 hours to make a difference in these students’ lives.”
To prepare for their first days, Manley and McLendon both said they are studying up and thinking about their first days.
“I think back on the teachers I had at Villa Rica and the techniques and skills they use,” McLendon said. “I’m really interested in the community of Villa Rica, and I’d like to bring that into my teaching style.”
Manley said she spends most of her time mentally preparing by reading the textbook.
“I just want to always know what’s coming up,” she said. “But I’m doing OK with the nerves.”