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Teachers new to system welcomed
Nancie Wakefield, a first-grade teacher at Whitlow Elementary, enters the auditorium of South Forsyth High to cheers on Tuesday. - photo by Jennifer Sami

New employees, about 280 strong, were welcomed Tuesday morning during the Forsyth County school system’s annual new educators orientation breakfast.

South Forsyth High School’s auditorium was packed for the group, which included 35 recent college graduates, 34 former paraprofessionals, 50 former substitute teachers, 15 out-of-state transplants and eight married couples entering the system.

Among those new to the system was Jamie Brown, who previously worked for more than a decade in Fulton County’s school system. He will now be a counselor at West Forsyth High, saying he was “very, very impressed” with the school.

Brown said the move is a way of “challenging himself to learn a new county,” he said. “I’m re-energized to learn a new community and learn new students.”

Mai Kim will also be a counselor for the school system. Though she grew up in Gwinnett County, Kim “heard a lot about the school district and how it was growing.”

“I really just want to participate in the growth of this county,” she said. “I would hear all this stuff about Forsyth County from friends. I was really drawn to what makes it so appealing for them.

“I’m really nervous, but I’m really excited.”

During the event, teachers heard from Superintendent Buster Evans via video introduction and Associate Superintendent Joey Pirkle, who highlighted the school district’s unique family approach.

“With every decision we make, from the school board to teachers to buses, we always ask ourselves is it best for students,” Pirkle said. “One of our beliefs is change creates opportunity ... if you do not like change, you are in the wrong place.”

Nick Crowder, the system’s teacher of the year, also addressed the group, talking about his experience and how to engage the students. He used a robot to assist with a skit to break the ice.

As a past student and an experienced educator, Crowder said the most important aspect is the connection between a student and teacher.

“As new educators, I would invite you to reach out and care enough to care about your students,” he said.

The district’s chief human resources officer, Candy Norton, said the orientation is important for teachers to experience, so they’re learning how the school system operates at the district level as well as what they will learn during pre-planning at their individual schools.

“It’s one of the few times they get a system perspective and get to know the system and meet the board,” she said. “The second part of this is to show specifics about our learning and our focus.”