More than 800 new teachers recently caught a glimpse of why Superintendent Chris Ragsdale says the Cobb County School District is the “best place to teach, lead, and learn.” From recent college graduates and returning educators to the mayor of Kennesaw, hundreds of teachers gathered for the New Teacher Academy at McEachern High School July 18 to take notes on how the District achieves student success.
McEachern High cheerleaders and band pumped up the crowd before experienced CCSD educators took the stage to reveal what makes the teachers’ new home so special.
Chief Academic Officer Dr. Mary Elizabeth Davis explained how the District creates the “best place to learn” for students.
“We teach with every child in mind,” Dr. Davis said. “We believe it is our responsibility to ensure that every child in Cobb County has an exceptional learning experience from the minute they get on the bus to the minute they get off the bus.”
Alana Davis, an Innovation Specialist at Mableton Elementary, detailed why she thinks Cobb is the best place to teach.
“You are now working for a top notch school district that provides its teachers with amazing professional development opportunities,” she added.
Davis encouraged the new teachers to take advantage of the professional learning opportunities available in the District. She told the educators to find a teaching mentor, someone who they could laugh with, lean on, or simply ask questions when needed. Her final piece of advice was that the new teachers should strive to be the best teacher possible every day.
“We’re all here because we want to make a difference,” she added. “We want to educate the future generations so our contribution can be seen and have a lasting impact.”
Superintendent Ragsdale stepped on stage to outline the District’s priorities, which showcase CCSD as the best place to lead. The District’s first priority is to “ensure that Cobb is the best place to teach, lead, and learn.” The second priority helps make Cobb the best: “simplify our foundation of teaching and learning in order to prepare for innovation.”
When explaining the importance of the third priority, Superintendent Ragsdale reassured the teachers that the District leadership would help them “use data to make decisions” when determining how to improve student success.
One of the new educators listening to the Superintendent is not new to Cobb County, the school district or speaking in front of large groups. Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling is checking off his bucket list by signing on to teach social studies at Awtrey Middle School.
“Teaching has been on my list for 40 years. That’s what I started out wanting to do,” the mayor said.
As an active volunteer at Awtrey Middle and school PTA president, some may have mistaken him for one the teachers in the past.
“I feel comfortable around the students [at Awtrey],” Mayor Easterling said. “They are very dynamic. I love the school. I love the students.”
He’s passionate about sparking the students’ interest in history. However, despite his experience as mayor, he confessed to being a little nervous about his new role as a teacher.
He wasn’t the only one at the New Teacher Academy with teaching butterflies.
Robert Byrd is preparing to start his first year teaching at South Cobb High School.
“I’m a little nervous, but I guess that comes with the territory,” the interrelated world history teacher said.
Having served as a paraprofessional at South Cobb High for several years, Byrd is ahead of some of the new teachers, but he was looking for the New Teacher Academy to give him an idea of what to expect in his new role as a teacher.
The New Teacher Academy helped build camaraderie among the new hires.
“It was a great opportunity to get to meet the other people who are joining me. We were able to get to know each other,” said Meagan Stanfill, who will serve as the Technology, Training and Integration Specialist at Harmony-Leland.
The teachers had yet to teach their first class in the district, but they were already sharing ideas with each other.
“There is so much incredible talent here,” said Mayor Easterling. “I’ve already been given ideas.”
In addition to the speakers, the new teachers also had the opportunity to explore resources available during a vendor fair that packed one of the McEachern High School gyms.
“This is a great way to start the school year,” Byrd said about his experience at the New Teachers Academy.