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Farmington Schools Aims to Support New Teachers

The district offered a full day orientation for more than 40 staffers who are new to the district this fall.

Students aren't the only ones who get nervous at the beginning of the year.

Assistant Superintendent Catherine Cost told school board members Tuesday that the district tried this year to alleviate the anxiety new teachers experience.

She said that a high level of turnover resulted in the district hiring more than 40 teachers. "That was an unexpected but a pleasurable experience," Cost said. During a day-long orientation, she added, "we provided a lot of information in an effort to try to support them."

The effort appears to have worked, based on a a survey of those who participated. More than 90 percent said the orientation met their needs at least to some degree, and 86 percent reported feeling they had what they needed to meet their students the first day, Cost said. 

The survey showed all teachers felt they knew where to go to get the information they need. Cost said new teachers felt most comfortable going to peers and teaching colleagues for that information, or to school administration.

"That's great," Cost said. "It tells us they are most comfortable going to their home school." Surveys showed teachers were least comfortable going to district administration, probably because they haven't developed relationships there, she said. 

Jon Manier, district executive director of instructional services, said a survey of individual school leaders showed the general tone of the year is "positive and forward thinking". He said there were challenges with technology and transportation, but noted expectations are very high in those areas, especially at the beginning of the year. 

Overall, he said, school leaders said the year started with a positive tone, "one they had not felt in the last couple of years".

Supt. Sue Zurvalec praised the custodial and maintenance staff. "They did a phenomenal job this summer, the schools were gleaming," she said. "They really looked wonderful."

The first week of school closed with one small problem, a burst water pipe at Farmington High School on Friday afternoon. Zurvalec said it was "clean" water and the maintenance staff addressed the problem over the weekend.

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