On Tuesday morning, Lambert High School’s auditorium was packed with educators who are new to Forsyth County as Superintendent Jeff Bearden welcomed them into the Forsyth County School system.
The welcoming ceremony kicked off the 2016 new educator orientation – an annual event held to help incoming teachers adjust to the school system. This year, 380 new educators from a wide variety of backgrounds attended the orientation.
“We have 33 paraprofessionals appointed to teachers, 27 of you were former Forsyth County substitutes and 24 are returning Forsyth County teachers,” Bearden said to the group. “We have a number of new educators that are joining us from 10 states outside of Georgia, with the most coming from Florida. And we also have two married couples in our group.”
Forsyth County is also welcoming 48 educators who are recent college graduates, with the majority having graduated from the University of Georgia and the University of North Georgia.
Additionally, teachers will be coming to Forsyth from 12 other school districts in Georgia. The majority of these teachers will be coming from the Gwinnett and Fulton County districts, with 48 from Gwinnett and 43 from Fulton.
The ceremony also introduced the new educators to seasoned Forsyth County teachers by recognizing the elementary, middle and high school teachers of the ear. Andrew Poor, the high school and system-wide top teacher, and Sharon Nizialek, the elementary school teacher of the year, both made speeches in which they offered advice to the new teachers.
“Four years ago, I sat where you sat, a little nervous and a little anxious,” Poor said. “I can confidently tell you that you have found a great professional home. This is a place that is supportive, collaborative and progressive … I think the biggest thing about this district is that it holds all stakeholders to high expectations.”
The ceremony went on to include talks from the Forsyth County Education Foundation – a governing committee that will give its first school system grants this year – and a recap of the 2015-16 school construction and Brandywine Elementary and DeSana Middle schools, which are set to open their doors next week.
Bearden gave a look ahead at the expected growth of the school system and the coming openings of Forsyth County’s sixth traditional high school, Denmark High School, and the new career and college school, the Alliance Academy for Innovation.
Highlighting the 1,000 attendees to the Forsyth County Schools district job fair, Bearden congratulated the 380 new teachers on their selection and also highlighted the rapid growth of the district.
“We are big and expected to get much larger in the next few years,” Bearden said. “We are projected to be home to over 46,000 students in this school year. But one of the many things that makes Forsyth County special is that, even with our growth, we still maintain a small-town feel and form connections that go beyond the walls of our schools.”
After the ceremony’s finish, teachers were dismissed to different training sessions and vendor tables at Lambert. The new educators finished the day at their specific schools all over Forsyth County with more orientation meetings and training events.
Bearden’s parting words to the new educators were ones of encouragement in light of recent national and international tragedies.
He challenged teachers to be examples of “caring, empathetic, selfless citizens” for their students and also said he expected teachers to treat their students well and to be passionate about leaving a positive legacy.
“It has been said, and it is true, kids will not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Bearden said. “Our students arrive on August 4. On the night of August 3, I hope that you have just a little trouble sleeping. Why? I hope you’re a little nervous, but, more than that, I hope you’re a lot excited.”