LAURINBURG — While school starts on Monday, Aug. 27 for students, teachers will already be two weeks into their year.
Orientation for new teachers began on Monday with an introduction into the Scotland County School systems, learning about what all the schools have to offer the new teachers.
On Wednesday, the teachers were welcomed by the Laurinburg-Scotland County Chamber of Commerce with a breakfast sponsored by the Lumbee River Electric Membership. During breakfast the teachers got to hear about the Chamber, the different organizations such as the Young Professionals Network, and got some more information about the area.
According to Beginning Teacher Coordinator Lolita Hargrave, there are around 80 new teachers starting in the different schools this year.
“I’m excited the energy and excitement that they have brought so far this week has been incredibly exciting,” Hargrave said. “We have pride in our support system and they’re there to help each other. We tell the teachers there is no reason they can’t be successful as long as they give their effort for it.”
In total there are around 80 teachers starting in the district later this month, some are new to teaching completely while others come from different districts.
Nikole Walker came to Scotland from the Richmond School District and is already excited to be a Scot — but more especially a Spartan as she’ll be teaching sixth-grade history at Spring Hill Middle School.
“My focus was high school so teaching middle school is going to be a change,” Walker said. “But I’m really looking forward to the high energy that Scotland County has.”
Over the summer Walker has been preparing for the upcoming year by taking tests to make sure she knows the curriculum as well as doing some outreach.
Walker is part of the small percentage of teachers who have experience with teaching, according to Cory Satterfield, assistant superintendent of human resources, 73 percent of the teachers are lateral entry, meaning they’re coming from the workforce.
One of those teachers is Charles Gunnings, who will be teaching fifth-grade math at Sycamore Lane elementary. Gunnings graduated from Scotland High School and has worked in childcare as well as a police officer. As for why he decided to teach, it was because of his love for kids.
“Teaching was a calling,” Gunnings said. “The tradition of education here in Scotland County and the way Superintendent Hargrave is always working with the kids and loves them says a lot.”
Gunnings also says it’s another way for him to give back to his community and where he came from.
“I always want to see kids grow my jobs have set me up to see a lot of things,” Gunnings said. “I also know what kind of kids we have here in Scotland because I’m from here and I’d like to be part of the solution to help the kids in the area.”
For Gunnings he’s already worked on a motto for his students, “don’t be scared to be great.”
Satterfield said that when they’re looking for teachers they’re looking for people who love kids, like Gunnings, and with the changing times it’s not unusual now to have teachers coming from other jobs.
“The hard part is colleges aren’t producing the amount of students that they were,” Satterfield said. “Three years ago it was unheard of to have any unfilled positions in K through 5.”
The lateral entry teachers do have disadvantages, as well as advantages for coming into the schools. An advantage is that they’ve been in the workplace and know what’s going on outside the classroom for students to prepare for after graduation. However, on a negative is that they’ve never been in a classroom but Satterfield said they’re trying to prepare them as much as possible during orientation so they’re ready and prepared for the first day.
“We have an exciting group and our beginning teacher program is one of the best in the state,” Satterfield said. “We want to make them the best they can be.”
Katelin Gandee can be reached at 910-506-3171 or [email protected]