Schenectady City School district kicking off new school year with 124 new teachers, staff
A three-day new teacher orientation program kicked off this morning in Schenectady on the eve of the new school year.
The program began with a breakfast meeting at Proctors. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, a Democrat who’s running for a fourth term this fall, praised the new hires.
"We're hiring the best," said McCarthy. "You are the best, you've gone through a detailed screening process. You're joining a organization that sets standards for other districts across the state. And want to go back to that we're looking at the people where I hire want to be community leaders, you actually are in a greater role to transform and continue to build this city than some of the people that I have working for me. You're going to interact with individuals, you're going to interact with families, you're going to continue that reputation of producing great leaders."
Schenectady schools Superintendent Anibal Soler says the district is starting the new year on a high note.
"One of the biggest concerns all of us have is hiring new talent, new recruitment, and we have 124 new staff members joining us. So our Human Resources staff, our teaching, staff did a great job recruiting some teachers to fill some voids of those who either retired or moved on to other careers," Soler said.
New fifth-grade teacher Susanne Sears is up for the challenge:
"This is a huge district compared to where I'm coming from," said Sears. "And I just moved here from Wyoming and a very rural country school so this is a very diverse exciting kind of district. So lots of opportunities for growth and for my kids and for myself. So I’m excited."
Soler says through Wednesday the new teachers will attend a variety of sessions including brushing up on new technology, trauma informed practices, the student information system, school and district expectations, implementation of individual education plans and more.
Elijahjuan McGill is a new substitute teacher at Paige Elementary.
"Because I'm the building sub, I'll be teaching a little bit of everything. I'm really looking forward to teaching English and math, I've taught both of those things at the high school level. And I feel like I built a great rapport with students doing that, but I'm kind of excited to see what science and social studies are like too," said McGill.
Soler says he's getting the new hires situated.
"My biggest challenge is working with the board to make sure that we have, you know, funding to hire teachers make sure that we have all of our classrooms filled with high quality certified teachers," Soler said. "The biggest challenge for me is now, once we have our staff, now it's the work of around professional learning, making sure that our kids are getting exposed to top talent, good instruction. And you know, we have a lot of challenges with our academic outputs. So making sure we're getting kids reading by grade level, getting our graduation rate improved. That'll be the work of these teachers along with their peers."
Soler says the district is ready in the event of a fresh COVID outbreak.
"We've lived with it, in the worst of days. And so we're just waiting. We haven't gotten any guidance from the state on anything, doing different, but I know that we will treat it as if you know, if you're sick, and if you test positive, you stay home. We know all the kind of best practices around it. I don't think we'll see any wholesale changes with like, in terms of masking, you know, kids can mask now, parents can have their children mask, and it's their choice. I don't see any mandates coming out anytime soon. But, you know, we'll be prepared if we have to pivot," said Soler.
Soler adds should migrant children arrive in Schenectady, the district has the capacity to welcome and educate them accordingly.