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What teachers are excited about as 2019-20 school year begins
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From left, Carrie Shadburn and Becky Hutchinson said they look forward to embracing a “joy for reading” with this year’s kindergartners at Martin Technology Academy. - photo by Kelsey Podo

During the open house on Monday, Aug. 5, at Martin Technology Academy, Carrie Shadburn and Becky Hutchinson said many of their former kindergartners ran up to them declaring, “I can read now.”

“It’s just incredible to see the progress they make,” Shadburn said. “They come in and can hardly write their names. They’re so excited because they see what they’ve accomplished. It’s truly rewarding.”

Hutchinson, who works as a paraprofessional with Shadburn, said many start the year not even knowing how to properly hold a pencil. By the end of the year, the two expect their kindergartners to be able to write and illustrate a story that contains a beginning, middle and end. 

With the new Literacy for Hall program being pushed out this year in the school system, Shadburn said she intends to instill a “love of reading” with her students. Her kindergartners will have a larger selection of books to choose from and have the opportunity to witness Shadburn’s own passion for literacy.

“It’s important for them to see good role models, and that’s what we try to do,” she said. “Letting them see that we like to read, we hope that they’ll want to do that too. That’s what I’m excited about.”

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Carrie Shadburn and Becky Hutchinson intend to have their kindergartners at Martin Technology Academy write and illustrate a book by the end of the year.

At Gainesville Middle School’s open house on Aug. 2, students excitedly crowded into the building to meet their new teachers and reunite with familiar faces. 

Wearing her red and black Gainesville Middle colors with pride, Aisha Simmons-Webb gave students a glimpse into her marketing class. 

“The key to these logos is getting you to buy,” Simmons-Webb said while pointing at big-name brands on her walls. “Everyone who knows me knows I’m the marketing queen. Being able to teach students about what it is that I do is going to be the most exciting.”

Down the hall from Simmons-Webb, Jennifer Jean shared with students her enthusiasm for business and computer science. 

By the end of her class, she hopes her students will have an idea of how to operate and run a business. 

Jean said this is her first time teaching at Gainesville Middle. Before, she worked in a high school, teaching robotics, computer programming and web design. 

“I’m excited about my courses and meeting the new students,” she said. 

Returning to Johnson High School for the open house on Aug. 1, many students were already thinking about future careers and college.
Stacey Hulsey, who teaches the school’s business and technology pathway, said she expects her high schoolers to leave with industry-recognized credentials or lined up jobs.

“We want them to be work ready if they choose to be that way,” she said. “Students have so many options to do dual enrollment, it’s crazy the opportunities that are out there.”

Hulsey said her son, who is a senior at Johnson High, will be able to graduate with college courses under his belt, like many others who attend the high school. 

Whatever career pathway students at Johnson High take, she encourages them to focus on their passions.

“You really just have to know what’s out there and find out what’s going to fit you,” she said.

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From left, Carrie Shadburn and Becky Hutchinson put together some last-minute lesson plans in their kindergarten classroom at Martin Technology Academy the day before classes start. - photo by Kelsey Podo