New teachers in Carson school district learn the ropes |

New teachers in Carson school district learn the ropes

Karl Horeis
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal New Pioneer High School science teacher Cliff Smith listens to instructions during an orientation class in the Carson-High School library Wednesday. Smith formerly taught in Vermont.

Teachers became students again during the annual Carson City School District new-hire teacher orientation Wednesday.

Carol Harris, professional-development coordinator for the district, raised her hand to quiet the educators as they talked excitedly at tables in the Carson High School library. The room went silent.

“You guys are good,” Harris said.

“We’re well trained,” whispered Dawn Wille, a former Las Vegas teacher who will teach second grade at Empire Elementary School.

At her table were Tricia Walther, another Empire second-grade teacher-to- be; Angila Golik, who arrived Sunday from Montana to teach history at the high school; and Brittena Spieth, who will be a first-year teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School.

“I’m kind of nervous, but I’m really excited,” she said.

They are four of 44 new hires this year, for a total of 539 teachers in the district.

The group reviewed teaching strategies that hold a student’s attention and were encouraged to teach “bell to bell,” or all the way through a class session.

Harris recommended they give students an easy, flexible assignment which doesn’t require much guidance at the start of each class. Asking students to write down all the states they can think of, for example, will engage them while the teacher takes roll.

“This is something we do every year just to give new teachers an overview of district regulations and procedures,” said Richard Stokes, associate superintendent.

During the two-day training, new teachers are paired up with classroom veterans.

“That way, as the new teacher goes through the school year, they’ll have access to resources, and they’ll know everything from their classroom budget to how to order a school bus for a field trip,” Stokes said.

Three new teachers from St. Teresa of Avila’s private Catholic school joined the public school teachers at the orientation.

Stokes said 44 new teachers a year is about average for the district.

“We turn over anywhere from 40 to 60 each year just due to retirement and other various reasons,” he said.

Meanwhile, back at Wille’s table, the teachers talked about the difference between rules and procedures, the limitations of the No Child Left Behind Act and the importance of making a personal connection to students.

Spieth said she doesn’t feel like she’s had quite enough time to prepare for her first year.

“You know what, though?” asked Wille. “None of us feel like we’ve had enough time to prepare. Every year, I feel like a first-year teacher because there are so many changes – every year.”

The new-hire orientation continues today. School starts Tuesday.

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.