Most first year teachers will describe that very first day on the job as “nerve racking,” and indeed several of the new teachers in Chesterfield County said just that. But that doesn’t undermine their reasons for being in the classroom.
New teachers have come to Chesterfield County for all kinds of reasons. There are at least 45 new faces that will be teaching in various schools throughout the county this year.
Some are fresh out of college, such as Language Arts Teacher Anne Mueller at New Heights Middle School in Jefferson. Mueller received her degree this past May from Juniata College in Hunington, Penn. “I just wanted to teach,” said Mueller. “I didn’t care where.”
As she was applying for teaching positions, Mueller said, “I had my first face to face interview with Chesterfield County and they offered my a job; so I took it.”
Other first year teachers came to Chesterfield County by way of the altar. Adrienne Sanders, a first year math teacher at Cheraw Intermediate School, was married earlier this year to Brandon Sanders, who has taught in Chesterfield County for the past three years. “Love brought me to Chesterfield County,” said Sanders.
But it’s the love of her students, and the compassion of her co-workers, that prompted Sanders to be one of the few new teachers interviewed to describe their very first day as “inspiring.”
“I think it was the enthusiasm of the students that first day that took me by surprise,” said Sanders, “and when you hear a classroom filled with ‘yes ma’am and no ma’am’ it’s very impressive.”
“Paper work” was the unanimous response from each new teacher interviewed when asked about the most overwhelming aspect of their job. But each was eager to share the portion of the day they enjoy most.
“I really love the time when you see them really thinking,” said Mueller. “Sometimes I’m surprised at just how creative they can be.” For example, she said, in a lesson about metaphors she asked them to “describe your favorite color to someone that is blind.” That’s a difficult task, she said.
“Blue,” said Mueller, “was described by one of my students as that feeling in your mouth when you brush your teeth with minty toothpaste.”
Not only new teachers, but all teachers in Chesterfield County will be trying new teaching methods and curriculum standards this year. The new approach, according to Cheraw Intermediate School Principal Scott Eddins, “adds more rigor, more critical thinking skills and more problem solving” scenarios to the standard curriculum for students.
A new book, Pathways to the Common Core, is the guiding factor behind the new approaches to learning, said Eddins. Students will not be tested by these standards until the year 2015. For this year, students will take the same standardized tests they’ve been taking. Next year, there will be what is referred to as a “bridge test” that will take common elements from both sets of standards.
“Eventually,” said Eddins, with so much of the standards requiring critical thinking, “it will basically do away with multiple choice questions.” And, he said, “sometime in the future, maybe five years or more, all standardized tests will be done on computer.”
“Right now,” said Eddins, “one of our biggest challenges is explaining the standards and expectations to the parents.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at email@example.com.