During an induction luncheon Thursday for new teachers to the district, Aiken County School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Everitt told incoming teachers that they will hear lot about “student achievement”.
“It is our heart and soul,” she said to those gathered at South Aiken High School. “That’s what we’re here for. But we also believe teaching is fun. We work hard and we play hard. It’s about coming to work every day, but it’s also exciting and challenging. Here in Aiken County, we believe we’re here to make a difference. We cherish our profession, our children and every teacher.”
She also reminded them they are not alone.
“We are a team here,” she said. “We believe that together everything is better. So when you have problems and concerns, together as a team we come up with solutions.”
Others on the program echoed some of the same sentiments, referring several times to the district as a “family” and “one of the best districts they could have chosen.”
On a more challenging note, King Laurence, associate superintendent for instruction, reminded teachers to be mindful of the shadows they cast.
“The sun casts shadows,” he said. “While a teacher’s job is to teach, they also cast shadows through their influence.”
Although the first day of school in Aiken County is not until Monday, much preparation is involved behind the scenes.
First-time and new-to-the-district teachers spent the two days before the luncheon in new-teacher training for the district. There are 116 new teachers in all, said Denise Broome, the induction and mentoring coordinator.
Twenty-five of those will be teaching in North Augusta-area schools.
North Augusta Middle School Principal Wendy Jacobs said those two days of training were very important.
“They spent time learning about the district’s policies and procedures, but it was also a mentoring time,” she said. “Each teacher was assigned a mentor.”
University of South Carolina Aiken graduate Cari Conaway will teach fifth-grade math and science at Mossy Creek Elementary.
“I found it very helpful,” she said. “They were very detailed and so supportive. It was a lot of information at one time, but I’m looking forward to getting rooted. I was surprised it’s such a friendly environment.”
Mossy Creek Principal Stephanie Hammond said she was excited for the new school year because the theme is “motivation determines destination.”
“We have three brand new teachers and two from different schools in the district,” she said. “The teachers have a lot of things planned to get the kids motivated.”
Melissa Schwade, of Hephzibah, moved here from Iowa last year and did a long-term substitute position at Jackson Middle School at the end of the school year. She will teach social studies and math at North Augusta Middle School.
“I came here looking for better opportunities, and I’m looking forward to working in Aiken County. I’ve heard such good things. I’ve talked to people and it seems everyone wants to come to Aiken County,” she said.
One principal is excited because he will be back in his old stomping grounds.
“I was assistant principal at North Augusta High in 2007-2008 and then I served as principal at Paul Knox Middle for four years,” said North Augusta High Principal John Murphy. “This is my second stint at North Augusta High. I am proud to have the opportunity to be back and to serve our students. I’m looking forward to working with our young people, our faculty and staff, and I’m looking forward to a great year.”
Broome said the overall figure of 116 new teachers is with the exception of a few newly-hired ones who may not have been included in the tally. Of the 25 in the North Augusta area, three are at North Augusta Elementary, four at North Augusta Middle, 11 at North Augusta High, four at Paul Knox Middle, and three at Mossy Creek.