SNOW HILL — Though many likely wish it could last a little longer, summer vacation is coming to an end and Worcester County schools are opening their doors on Aug. 27. And with a new school year comes a fresh crop of teachers who went through induction this week.
“The induction helps improve and accelerate teacher performance,” said new teachers coordinator Shirleen Church. “It fosters ongoing learning, collaboration and accountability as well as ongoing professional growth and competence.”
In preparation for the start of classes, new teachers spent the week going through workshops and lectures all geared towards giving them the tools to make a smooth transition into Worcester school system.
“We talked a lot about Race to the Top (RTTP),” said Timothy Gebhardt, who will be starting at Snow Hill Middle School (SHMS) this fall as a special education teacher.
Born and raised in Snow Hill, Gebhardt attended Salisbury University after graduating from Snow Hill High School. Upon receiving his degree, he said that returning to Worcester County to teach was always his plan.
“I’m finally able to give back to the community that I grew up in,” said Gebhardt.
As for entering special education specifically, Gebhardt explained that he first became involved in the special needs field in college through volunteer work.
“I volunteered at Big Brothers, Big Sisters…I got involved first at the family level,” he said.
Since then, Gebhardt stressed both the “challenges and joy” of working with special needs students and helping them reach their full potential.
Elizabeth Knerr, a first-grade teacher heading to Showell Elementary School (SES) at the end of the month, held similar views to Gebhardt’s. As a former private school educator, Knerr has more experience than many of the new teachers entering the fold this year, but promised that she is “really excited to learn how to teach the Showell way.”
Knerr has also worked outside of education in the private sector and believes that her time with “corporate America” should lend itself to managing a classroom.
“It is like running a small business,” she said.
Kristin Huber, a first-grade teacher at SES, had the same level of optimism regarding her mentee. Looking back at her own experiences as a teacher, Huber underlined how important it is for someone new to a school to be able to have the experience and guidance of a veteran teacher to draw upon, “especially that first week.”
“They really need that ongoing support,” agreed Heimer, adding that it is current teachers’ responsibility to “help grow new teachers.”
Both Knerr and Gebhardt said they are ready to start teaching in Worcester and feel prepared at least in part thanks to teacher induction which, besides focusing on new RTTP requirements, educates teachers on how to do everything from manage a classroom to write a lesson plan.