Attend five-day orientation

There will be 33 new teachers, along with four new administrators, when the Mexico schools open Aug. 15. The new teachers attended five days of workshops to give them orientation to the school district Aug. 1-2, and Aug. 5-7.
Curriculum Facilitator Gina Gilman directed the orientation. "I think orientation is important because it gives new folks an opportunity to become familiar with how we do business at the Mexico Public Schools," she said. "Also, the new employees can meet people who can help guide them through their first year, and expose them to district expectations for procedures and policies."
An activity brought back this year for the new employees was a tour of Mexico, including a visit to the newly-renovated YMCA. Some new teachers, however, are Mexico natives, which Gilman thinks is an advantage.
"I think coming back to teach in the district you traveled through as a student is a very positive reflection on the education that occurs in the Mexico Public Schools," she said. "I think whenever we can hire someone who was home grown it is fantastic. Often times these are folks who plan on making their home in Mexico as well, which enables us to begin to build longevity in our staff."
During the workshop, teachers met with their individual school administrators, and spent time in the computer lab learning the schools' internet, email, and grading software.
A key part of the orientation was connecting the first and second-year teachers with their mentor teachers. With the mentors, the new teachers had time to work with their first quarter curriculum.
"We have a lot to cover and five days gives us an opportunity to cover a little each day to prevent overwhelming them," Gilman said. "We introduce them to the nuts and bolts of teaching in the Mexico schools, and thoroughly go through district policy and procedures."
There are 25 first-year teachers, two second-year teachers and six teachers with three plus years of experience.
Two of the 25 first-year teachers are Fellows from the University of Missouri, which means they are certified teachers earning Masters degrees while working under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
Some of the new teacher training is required by the Missouri State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). That workshop was presented by Ned Miller, retired educator and former director of the Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center.
"Along with teaching the new employees how to use our electronic records system, we are providing time for the DESE required Beginning Teacher Assistance Workshop," Gilman said. "That way, they will not have to be pulled out of their classrooms to complete this during the first month of school."
While the five-day orientation did present an intense amount of information, the content has advantages. "The workshops serve to acclimate teachers who are new to the community, and in some cases, new to the profession, to the school system and the community," Assistant Superintendent of Schools Zach Templeton said. "These five days also provided new teachers a chance to get to know a familiar face and hopefully build some collegiality before their first day of school."
Gilman also believes in the value of the extended workshop. "Through the relationships that develop, we can strengthen their desire to stay with us, and know they are supported," she said. "It is an opportunity to have all of them hear the same information at the same time, and gives them an opportunity to be personally welcomed by many community members."
Community resident Alice Leonatti spoke to the teachers about voter registration and A+ for Mexico Education teacher grants.
The new employees were guests of the Show Me Credit Union, Rotary Club, and Kiwanis Club for lunch. The Community Teachers Association (CTA) provided breakfast Aug. 6.