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New Douglas teachers undergo training

by Merrie Leininger

While students prepare for the start of school by getting new notebooks and school clothes, teachers new to the district spent two days in the classroom this week learning about the Douglas County School District.

The 28 teachers who will be starting school in Douglas for the first time next week, or who started with the elementary schools this summer, all get extra help from the district in the form of “level one” workshops.

Monday and Tuesday made up the first and second of the five workshops that will be held throughout the rest of the year.

These workshops help the teachers new to the district get on the same page with the rest of the educators in Douglas County, according to Professional Development Instructor Brandon Swain.

“I guess the whole point is to develop a common terminology and a common education culture, so when we engage in goal setting discussions, we all speak the same language,”Swain said.

Throughout the two days, teachers learned about the district’s new competencies, classroom management systems and parent communication. They also were introduced to district administrators including Superintendent Pendery Clark, assessment coordinator Janice Florey and competency coordinator Cris Etchegoyhen.

Most new teachers seemed impressed by the discussion of the new competencies.

Pinon Hills Elementary School special education teacher Jan Davis, who previously taught in Winnemucca, has been at PHES since school started Aug. 1. She said she was impressed with the overview of the competencies given by Etchegoyhen.

“Douglas County is radically different than any other district because it is competency driven. I think it is cutting edge and answers a lot of questions parents have been asking about what we are teaching our children,” Davis said.

Mark Searle, who will start his English 3 class at Douglas High School next week, also was impressed with the competencies, but said he likes the personalized attention new teachers get. After six years in Las Vegas, being in a small district is different, he said.

“The support is nice. The follow-ups are strange, but good. It’s strange because they devote so much resources to coaching new teachers. It’s good,” Searle said.

Vashti Burnett, a special education teacher who works with kindergarten and 1st graders, said the class helped her meet new people; something anyone new to a community appreciates.

“The most beneficial thing has been meeting other new teachers and sharing points about the district and ideas,” Burnett said.

During these first few days, Swain also sets up appointments to come talk to the teachers after they have spent time in the classroom. Then he will discuss with them what things they want to work on and then he will observe them while they teach.