Meet Kendall Robinson and Megan Barton.
The 23-year-olds are two of the 35 first-time educators who are teaching at Forsyth County schools this year.
Beginning today, the Forsyth County News will present an occasional series detailing the women’s adjustment to the classroom and their new occupations.
After all the waiting, it was over so quickly.
“I can’t believe how fast it went,” Barton said. “It was lunch before I even knew the day had started. It just flew by, it really did.
“It was a great day and I have a great class.”
In addition to Thursday being the first day the 2013-14 school year in Forsyth County, it was also Barton’s first official day as a teacher.
But after a great start with her fourth-grade class at Midway Elementary, she was excited for Monday, when she dives into curriculum.
“The first day I spent getting to know the kids and letting them get to know me,” she said. “I introduced how our centers work and how the class would work so next week we could get started on instruction.”
Though Barton is new to the classroom, the Forsyth native is not only a product of the local school system, she grew up in a family of educators.
She’s the niece of Matt Elementary Principal Charlley Stalder, daughter of Cindy McCormick, a human resources intake specialist for the system, and granddaughter of Lynn Castleberry, a former longtime secretary at Midway.
Barton said having family in the system “really influenced my decision to become a teacher because I saw how rewarding it was for them.”
“I always knew it was a great system to be in,” she said. “It’s where I was meant to be.”
Barton, a Forsyth Central High School graduate, earned a dual degree in early childhood and special education from the University of North Georgia. The decision to teach younger children was an easy one.
“Kids in their age group are so excited to be in school,” she said. “They’re ready to learn, they’re excited, they like exploring. They see their teachers as such a role model in their lives and such an important person.”
Through her university’s teaching program, Barton did her student teaching at Silver City Elementary. It was early in the program that she realized she made the right career choice.
“I just knew there was no turning back. I knew that’s exactly what I was supposed to do,” she said.
Part of having a group of 25 students looking up to her is showing them that she cares about them. Barton started her first day with a slide show about herself and then established classroom rules.
Above all, her goal for the year is to “inspire them to reach their potential.”
“I want them to do their best and I want to inspire them to want to do their best,” she said.
At the high school level, establishing authority can be tricky. It’s a delicate balance between being too strict or too friendly, but Kendall Robinson worked toward a happy medium.
“It’s easier to get nicer than it is to start out overly friendly,” she said.
On her first day, Robinson got a head start, arriving at South Forsyth High School about 7 a.m.
“I was just trying to get set up and make last-minute preparations right before the kids got here,” she said. “It’s amazing how much prep work goes in before school even starts.”
All the effort paid off for Robinson, who said she was surprisingly not nervous Thursday.
“I just felt comfortable,” she said. “I went home and thought, ‘I don’t feel like I worked today.’ I was here until late and then I got here way early [Friday] morning, but I really enjoyed it.”
Robinson grew up in Georgia and graduated from Buford High School before earning her degree in secondary mathematics education from the University of North Georgia.
Though Thursday was her first day as a teacher, Robinson completed her field experience at South Forsyth and her student teaching at Lambert.
She said education was her career choice because she enjoys helping others.
“The thrill of having a student grasp an idea with which they had previously had difficulty is indescribable,” she said. “I chose math as my focus because I love working with numbers and making mathematics easier for students to understand.”
After student teaching in Forsyth, Robinson said she knew it was a great system.
“Everyone is extremely supportive and more than willing to assist you,” she said.
Her first day “a little crazy,” with freshmen and new students asking for directions and kids ending up in wrong classes.
“But it went pretty smoothly,” she said.
On the first day, Robinson had all her students fill out an “All About You” sheet, which asked them how they learn best, their goals, if they have a job and information “I need to know about them.”
It will be a long weekend for Robinson as she studies those sheets and finishes up paperwork “to get prepared for the weeks to come.”
It’s why starting the school year with just two days of class is so beneficial for teachers, she said.
“Preplanning and right at the start of school it’s so hectic and crazy and with the kids, it helps them get back a little bit into the swing of things and then they have a break before starting an entire week,” she said. “For teachers, it’s really nice to have the weekend.”