Balto. Co. gives new teachers the word School system begins four-day program of facts, orientation

August 13, 1998|By Jamie Smith | Jamie Smith,SUN STAFF

They come from across the country, some with years of teaching experience and many fresh out of college, but all 700 with one thing in common: They are teachers new to the Baltimore County public schools. Yesterday, many of them met for the first time.

The new instructors gathered at Chesapeake High School in Essex for the first of a four-day, optional orientation program that introduces them to the system, familiarizes them with requirements, tests and expectations -- and helps ease first-day-of-class fears.

"It's a daunting task to go into a class of 25 students, and we want to do everything we can to better prepare them for that challenge," said Mary Jacqe Marchione, director of professional development for the county public schools and wife of schools Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione.

The teachers were chosen from 6,000 applicants, with the majority replacing instructors who have retired, left for other jobs or been promoted.

About 60 percent are new to the profession -- facing their first day of class Aug. 26. Others have more than 20 years of experience. Thirty percent were recruited from outside Maryland.

Today, the diverse group will get an overview of sexual harassment -- what it is, and how to stop it -- child abuse and special education. Yesterday, the teachers sat in classrooms with others in the same grade level or subject and listened to lectures on curriculum, goals and ways to tell if students are learning.

Quizzes and tests aren't enough, Bill Barnes, a teacher at Ridgely Middle School, told a group of middle school math instructors.

Instead, teachers need to constantly assess their students' understanding of the material, he said, suggesting they have a quick talk with several students at the end of each class.

"You have to know where your kids are every day," Barnes said. "Just because you say it doesn't mean they know it."

Math teachers also heard about the importance of covering all required concepts, such as long division and fractions.

"Otherwise, you screw up the teachers after you," Barnes said.

Also on hand yesterday were school nurses and psychologists.

"We're learning about how the county works, how we fit into it," said Lisa Jablon, a nurse for 30 years who is taking a school job for the first time.

Lisa Kovacs, 22, a Cleveland native who graduated from the University of Dayton in May, spent a few minutes making a list of concerns she has about her first teaching job: How will she start her first math class at Loch Raven Academy? What will she say to her sixth- and seventh-graders?

Bridget Moeller, 45, of White Marsh can't wait for her first day teaching seventh-grade social studies and reading at Parkville Middle School.

"I want to teach -- this is what I've been working toward for the last six years, and I'm finally here," said Moeller, who graduated from Towson University in May after switching from a career in nursing.

Thaddeus L. Price Jr., who earned his music education degree in May from Morgan State University, spent most of his life in Baltimore County public schools. He said he received a great education -- in academics and personal values -- which is why he'll be a teacher at Southwest Academy this year.

"I couldn't imagine teaching anywhere but Baltimore County," Price said.

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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