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Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomes new teachers

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomed new teachers to the district last week in a socially-distanced celebration.

The event was for teachers who are new to the district and teachers who are new to the profession. Teachers who are in their first three years of teaching are considered beginning teachers and would normally have a three-day orientation. RSS Director of Induction Susan Heaggans said that orientation, which would normally be face-to-face, was moved online, but there was still a socially-distanced and masked welcome in person.

“Safety, for us, is at the forefront of everything we do right now,” Heagans said. “Safety first when they’re being hired and safety first whether they are being trained, welcomed or at any event.”

Heaggans said this year the district had to ensure it did not have too many people in each area at once, even though the welcome was outside. Heaggans said the hiring process is different as well. In-person interviews involve masks and social distancing in interview rooms now.

Heaggans said the new staff welcome went well even though planning events around the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult. There were 66 beginning teachers and 51 other staff who attended the welcome. Everyone had to register ahead of time to attend. Staff members also picked up devices to use in class at the event.

“We will do whatever it takes to get the job done,” Heaggans said.

She said it was different this year because she could not see smiles on teachers faces, but she could still see the eyes of the staff and got a sense of how ready they were to get back in the classroom. She said some people just seemed happy to get out of the house.

Michelle Lopez is a first-year teacher. She spent last year homeschooling her son and will teach cross-curriculum subjects at the Summit K-8 Virtual Academy. Cross curriculum includes physical education, music, art and finding some unity between those subjects for virtual students.

Lopez said her experience with the virtual school has been great. She was a full-time online university student and said she feels comfortable with virtual learning.

“The staff has so many educators that are really experienced,” Lopez said.

Lopez said she thought becoming a virtual teacher would be a dream job teacher for her. She already works from home and is interested in innovative methods of education. She thought the orientation went well. Lopez is from Forsyth County, and said was surprised by how kind everyone with the district was. She said she has even considering moving to Rowan County because of how positive her experiences visiting area were.

“Everyone is working very hard and have very good attitudes,” Lopez said.

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