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Teachers go to school

by Teri Vance
Photo by Cathleen AllisonhCarol Harris, a professional development trainer for the Carson City School District, talks to a group of new teachers at Carson Middle School on Monday during orientation.
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Carson City’s first-year teachers spent Monday in class to get ready for school.

Carol Harris held her hand in the air, signaling the students to be quiet.

“I need your attention,” she prompted.

One by one, the students noticed the gesture and stopped talking. The students in Harris’ classroom on Monday were more than 50 of the teachers hired this year to teach in the Carson City School District.

“I’m trying to really get them to think through that first week of school,” said Harris, a professional development trainer. “I want them to go into the classroom with a plan.”

For five years, Harris has met with new hires the week before school started to give them an overview of what will be expected of them as teachers in the district.

“We find that teachers are pretty much expected to know what they’re doing from the day they walk into the classroom,” she said. “They don’t. Every school has different expectations and we feel we need to support our new hires.”

Carson City schools will welcome 69 new teachers to the district. Twenty of them are first-year teachers.

Zachary Schnaible, a 1994 graduate of Carson High School, will return to the school this year as a history teacher. His father, Richard Schnaible, teaches special education there.

He attended Monday’s workshop in the library of Carson Middle School from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“It went pretty good, I thought,” Schnaible said. “I got a lot of useful information out of it like teaching strategies that I will use throughout the year.”

Although veteran teacher Jay Yankoskie has taught for 14 years in both Pershing and Lyon counties, he appreciated the training session as well.

“It’s always good to hear good methodology over and over,” he said. “Repetition is the mother of good learning.”

Yankoskie – known as “Mr. Y, the science guy” to former students – will be teaching seventh-grade science at Carson Middle School.

Lisa Ekness, who will be teaching second grade at Mark Twain Elementary School, taught for six years in Ely.

“It was a great way to get motivated for the school year and a good way to get introduced to the Carson City School system,” she said.

John Paulson, who will teach at Carson Middle School after teaching seven years in Washoe County, said the workshop helps ease first-day jitters.

“You see all the other new hires and you get to meet people you’re going to be working with,” he said. “That kind of eases the anxiety, if you had any.”

The teachers will return today for more training and they will meet the mentors set up at each of the schools.

“We choose our best teachers to be mentors,” Harris said. “They’re not only good teachers, they’re good listeners.”

The mentors are assigned a group of new hires to help and advise.

“At any job, you’re not going to be perfect in the beginning,” she said. “We expect that. But we want to help them grow. The mentors will be there to help them along.”