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Open house for teachers
Orientation for new hires shows way
Teacher Orientation 2 es
Sherrie Gardner of Johns Creek Elementary School talks with Costco representative Rick Haisten as part of the Forsyth County school system's new teacher orientation Wednesday at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Emily Saunders

Some arrived Wednesday to help change Forsyth County, while others hope the county may change them.

Monica Bedoya and Sandra Rodriguez, both Colombia natives, were two of 302 out-of-district hires at the county school system's new educator orientation.

The women became instant friends, much like children on the first day of school.

"When I heard someone was from Colombia, I went looking for her," said Rodriguez of Bedoya.

Bedoya, who will teach Spanish at North Forsyth High, believes Colombia catches a bad wrap and hopes to change that. She wants to share "what wonderful people we are, the landscape ... the culture."

Rodriguez, who'll teach Spanish at Riverwatch Middle School, agreed.

"The kindness of the people, we have open mind, open heart and we want to bring all the good things from our country," she said.

The annual orientation, held this year at West Forsyth High School, is designed to acclimate first-year teachers or those coming from another district to the "Forsyth County way," as well as the ins and outs of the school system.

After Wednesday's introduction to the system, the teachers were to spend Thursday and Friday at their respective schools. A week of pre-planning follows next week before the new school year starts Aug. 11.

Candy Norton, the school system's director of human resources, said Wednesday's event lets new teachers meet people at the system level, plus dozens of local business vendors.

Scott Beard, one of the future football coaches at North Forsyth High, is looking for a change.

The social science teacher left his Southern California teaching position after six years in hopes of "a slower pace of life and a better way of living."

Beard looks forward to his first year, on and off the field, at North Forsyth High School.

"You gotta wanna do it," he said of teaching, adding that it's harder than people think. "We're at school pretty much year round now. It's not like it used to be, when you could leave in June and not come back until September."

Though the year hasn't started, Beard has begun adjusting to the "culture shock" of local demographics.
Teaching near Los Angeles, he worked with a student population that was about 75 percent Hispanic.

Football coaches Wendell Early, Jacob Martin and Dallas LeDuff came from Berkmar High in the Gwinnett County school system for similar reasons.

Early, an in-school suspension teacher and the new head football coach at South Forsyth High, left for a change.

"I just needed something different, change of venue, change of scene ... I looked for a different environment to do basically the same thing," he said.

Early was joined in the switch by assistant coaches Martin and LeDuff, who will coach with him at South Forsyth.
Martin looks forward to his first year teaching special needs students.

LeDuff, a native of New Orleans who grew up in Georgia, has worked with children who have emotional and behavioral disorders since he was in high school.

Norton's advice for all new teachers is a light attitude and elbow grease.

"Work hard. Have fun. Be nice," she said. "And enjoy the wonderful school system and county."