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Gainesville school system welcomes new teachers
Mindy Larson, left, a new fourth-grade teacher at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, talks with Susan Culbreth, the school’s new principal, during a luncheon held for new teachers in the Gainesville school system Friday at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The Gainesville school system is starting the school year fresh with 59 new teachers who were welcomed at a luncheon Friday at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The teachers have spent much of the week learning and preparing for students to arrive Thursday.

But Friday was all about meeting people and becoming acquainted with Gainesville.

"This is just a luncheon to say ‘We’re glad to have you,’" said Shirley Whitaker, assistant superintendent for special activities.

The Gainesville school system has 70 new employees in all this year, but only about 10 of them account for growth, said Elfreda Lakey, assistant superintendent for human resources.

Lakey said during the past year, the school system lost many employees who commuted to work. High gas prices caused many employees to find jobs closer to home.

The new teachers come to Gainesville from all across the state. Lakey said they looked for the most qualified Georgia-certified teachers to join the school system.

Mindy Larson, who will be teaching fourth grade at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, came to Gainesville from Cobb County, where she taught second and third grade.

"I just liked the area and the schools," she said. "It’s a smaller system, so the people are a lot more personable."

She said one of the things that drew her to the Gainesville school system is that there is a smaller number of schools within it. She said it feels more like a family setting.

Others have been working all summer to get ready for the new school year.

"I think we’re there, I think we’re ready to go," said Pam Wood, the principal of the freshman academy at Gainesville High School.

Wood started working July 1. She said today is the freshman market, where rising eighth graders can pick up schedules, buy lockers and join clubs.

And though many teachers were new to Gainesville, some were just new to the school system.

Nicoleta Freeman, who will teach English as a second language at the Gainesville High School freshman academy, has lived in Gainesville for four years and previously taught at Riverside Military Academy.

"I heard so many wonderful things about this system," she said.

Freeman, who is originally from Romania, said she will use her own experiences to help kids understand that, regardless of their economic status or nationality, they can succeed and further their education.

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