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Teachers ‘shop’ for classroom supplies during new teacher orientation

SALISBURY — Ashlyn Coley had to make several trips to her car to get all the teaching materials and books she had chosen for her new classroom in the trunk.

Her two large bags were full of anything and everything she thought would be useful in her arts classroom.

“How many books did we not take?” Coley said, laughing as she referred to herself and her colleagues.

Coley and about 40 other teachers took part in Building Classroom Libraries on Wednesday morning as a final part of their new-teacher orientation for Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Books organized according to reading level and other classroom materials such as bulletin board liners covered rows of tables in a school system warehouse as the teachers “shopped” for the materials they will need for their classrooms.

Although some books and materials are from outside sources, most of the materials that were available were from retired teachers or schools that no longer need them.

“Our goal is to create extraordinary readers,” said Susan Heaggans, director of initial licensure for the school system. “The books don’t do us any good sitting here. We’re helping from within.”

Many new teachers have to spend their own money for classroom supplies to supplement whatever money they receive from their schools. It is one additional hurdle along with all the lessons of being a new teacher, Heaggans said.

The program is part of the annual teacher orientation. The beginning-teachers program is a three-year state program, but its implementation may vary by district, Heaggans said.

The program’s agenda varies. Earlier Wednesday morning, the new teachers attended a seminar about learning to communicate with and understand students with behavioral problems.

Heaggans said she was happy to see the surprised look on teachers’ faces as they walked in and saw the classroom materials to choose from.

New teacher Cabria Rogers was thankful to be able to save money by getting classroom supplies. Although she went to school for biology and once aimed to become a doctor, she decided to become a teacher instead after spending some time substituting.

“Through my journey in substituting, I gained a passion for teaching because of my connection with my students,” Rogers said.

Many other new teachers had similar stories.

Coley grew up in a family of teachers but had planned to go into graphic design.

“Being a new teacher, it’s nice to come and gather materials and see what you can work with,” she said.

Coley said she was happy to see the materials being recycled.

Rena Evans was book shopping with Coley and Rogers. She studied environmental science and thought that teaching was a good place to start to make a positive social change.

Kelly Key, a native of the Salisbury area, was a recreational therapist before she decided to teach kindergartners.

“Now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Key said.

She got handbooks, classwork, lesson plans and other materials Wednesday and thinks they will help her be successful in her first year.

“I believe in education,” Key said. “It makes a difference in people’s lives.”

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