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Hall County school system welcomes 275 new teachers
New Hall County teachers Britton Grier, left, and David Peake listen to Superintendent Will Schofield during an orientation program Tuesday morning. - photo by Tom Reed


Allison Carpenter, a first-year teacher talks about joining the Hall County school system as a first-grade teacher at Oakwood Elementary School.

Allison Carpenter is returning to the stomping grounds of her youth, this time as a teacher.

The 23-year-old will begin her teaching career at Oakwood Elementary School, where she attended as a child. She will work as a first-grade teacher when school opens Aug. 7.

Now mingling professionally with teachers she had as a student, Carpenter finds the experience a bit weird. Still, she’s excited about the chance to work in her own classroom.

"I love to be around kids," said the recent North Georgia College & State University graduate. "I’m excited about being able to influence them in a positive way."

That was exactly the message Hall County school system administrators are hoping to convey this week during new teacher orientation at Chestatee High School.

Carpenter, a 2003 West Hall High School graduate, was one of some 275 new teachers who arrived Tuesday morning at the northwest Hall school for four days of introductory sessions.

Teachers are learning the basics of working in the school system and otherwise getting their footing as they prepare for the 2008-09 school year.

Much of Tuesday was spent on the very basics, such as learning about insurance benefits.

The teachers — not necessarily new to education, but new to Hall County — also heard about classroom management and the state’s educator code of ethics.

The event kicked off with Superintendent Will Schofield speaking to the group for about 30 minutes in Chestatee’s theater. He thanked the educators for joining Hall County schools and praised them for choosing to become teachers.

He joked that he was sure they didn’t enter the field to become rich.

"You got into this because ... you believed you could make a difference," Schofield said.

He told teachers not to expect they’ll be working in some affluent suburb.

More than half of Hall’s students receive federal assistance in paying for
school meals and the number of students eligible to receive assistance may be even higher than that, he said.

Schofield said teachers should "check their heart" for any biases they might have in working with a diverse group of students.

"We take all comers and we love them all," he said.

Tyrone Lucas is returning to the Hall County system after a three-year absence.

Lucas, 40, had spent 12 years in the system, working in in-school suspension at West Hall Middle School and special education at East Hall High School.

He went on to work for two years as a special-education teacher and weight-room teacher at Gainesville High School. Then, he spent one year in the real estate field.

Lucas said he wanted to return to education "as a chance to make a difference at a different level ... as an administrator."

He will serve as an assistant principal at West Hall Middle.

"I miss kids. I love being around the kids, and I think I can make a big impact on their lives," Lucas said.

Administrative work is "uncharted territory for me, but that’s exciting," he added.

New teacher orientation in the Gainesville school system is set for Thursday and Friday.

The event is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Thursday at Gainesville High School. Teachers will take the annual bus tour of the city later in the morning. After lunch, they will report to their respective schools.

Sessions will resume at Gainesville High on Friday morning. A new teachers luncheon is set for 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. at Gainesville Civic Center on Green Street.

Elfreda Lakey, an assistant superintendent said the city system expects 45 new teachers this year.

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