Teachers-To-Be Receive a Deluxe Introduction to WS/FCS
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
FEBRUARY 9, 2012 – On Friday Feb. 5, future teachers now in education programs at Wake Forest and Appalachian State received a top-level introduction to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
Virtually, about 40 students spent time with Superintendent Tricia McManus and a host of others.
Students learned about such departments as Child Nutrition and Finance.
They met such people as Darrell Walker, the Assistant Superintendent for Operations, and Heather Barksdale, the Director of New Teacher Induction.
They met such instructional coaches as Nathan Tulburt, an Instructional Coach for Social Studies.
They met a principal – Leslie Alexander of Reynolds High. They met a teacher – Troy Colvard, who teaches social studies at Reynolds.
“I thought it was a good event,” Alexander said afterward.
“I think it says a lot about our district that so many people in such a variety of roles took time to attend. It shows that our district places a high value on recruiting good teachers.”
“It is critical for a district our size to put a personal touch on our recruitment efforts. It is also very important to maintain a close connection with universities such as ASU and Wake Forest to maintain a pipeline for high quality teacher candidates.”
Tulburt said: “Education is a profession that relies on collaboration. In speaking to the students of Appalachian State and Wake Forest, I hoped to provide some information that would be helpful as they begin their professional careers. I hold both institutions dear to my heart as I couldn't be the person or educator I am today without them.”
“WS/FCS has been amazing to be a part of over the last four years. The school system strives to help every student succeed and has many supports in place to ensure the same for teachers.”
On the school system’s side, the event was organized by Shaterika Parks, the Director of Recruitment & Retention, and Bree Christensen, the Employee Recruitment Coordinator. On the universities’ side, the event was organized by Alan Brown, the Chair of the Department of Education at Wake Forest, and, from Appalachian, Megan Kasper the Assistant Director for Student Engagement, and Ike Smith, the Director of the Reich College of Education’s (RCOE) James Center for Student Success and Advising.
In introducing the people from WS/FCS to the students, Brown said, “We are incredibly grateful that they have take the time to meet with us and meet with you.”
Parks made a point to thank all the WS/FCS participants.
“I know how busy you are,” she said. “It means a lot that you took time out to support this.”
McManus was the first representative of WS/FCS to speak. She talked about the importance of excellence, collaboration and inclusiveness and the school system’s goals. She talked about such topics as demographics and technology.
Turning her attention to the students, she said, “We need an amazing workforce of folks. We need you.”
“You have chosen the right profession. It is the profession that enables all other professions.”
When Colvard, the teacher at Reynolds, spoke, he shared some of his experiences as a new teacher and offered a bit of advice: “Don’t expect to go into your first year being an absolute pro…Give yourself space not to be perfect.”
We all make missteps, he said, and we learn from those mistakes.
When Tulburt, the Instructional Coach, spoke, he said that he really felt as if he had found a home here. In a pitch for choosing to work for a larger district such as WS/FCS, Tulburt pointed out that larger districts are able to provide supports for teachers that may not be available to smaller districts.
His advice was: “Give yourself some space and give yourself some grace. Always ask questions. Surround yourself with good teachers.”
Reynolds is a magnet school that focuses on the arts, and Alexander provided information about the magnet programs that the school system offers.
In talking about her responsibilities, she said, “The most important thing I do is hire the best teachers.”
And then she does her best to support them so that they want to continue teaching there.
Alexander also talked about some of the challenges facing schools today, including not having enough substitute teachers.
Barksdale, the Director of New Teacher Induction, talked about some of the support those who chose to become WS/FCS teachers will receive, including being assigned a mentor.
Those who already work for the school system learned as well. For instance, Walker, the Assistant Superintendent for Operations, provided a lot of information on such topics as bonds and school construction and that the square footage of schools has doubled since 2001.
One of the students participating was Morgan Anderson, a junior at Appalachian who is majoring elementary education with a concentration in psychology. She is a member of the Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES).
It was an excellent experience, Anderson said.
“ACES has done both a rural and urban school district orientation and it has been very interesting to learn about what goes on beyond the classroom. One major thing for me is learning about the things we aren't really learning about, for example, interviews, the mentor programs, or Child Nutrition and I think that this experience really allows us to get a better idea of all the parts that make up the district.”
“I really enjoyed learning about all the different parts of the school district in Forsyth County and I especially enjoyed talking more to Principal Alexander. She was very nice and had a lot to share about how her school runs and what I should expect when I begin teaching.”
“I would also like to thank everyone from the Forsyth County School District for taking the time to talk to us and a big shout out and thank you to the ACES program directors, Megan Kasper and Ike Smith!”
“We're very lucky to be able to experience something like this that most education majors don't have the opportunity to.”
After the event, the organizers spoke about the event:
Shaterika Parks said: “The Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES), Wake Forest University, and WS/FCS Orientation was such a unique opportunity, which allowed multiple universities to come together and provide their university students a chance to explore exciting career opportunities within Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. It’s great to see this partnership stretch across North Carolina and for us all to be dedicated to serving students.”
Bree Christensen said: “Speaking with our upcoming future teachers of North Carolina from Appalachian State and Wake Forest University was such a rewarding experience! I really enjoyed learning more about them, and sharing why WS/FCS is such a great place to work with them!”
Alan Brown said: "There were many firsts in this event, including our first time using a virtual platform and the first time Wake Forest students joined Appalachian students for the event. The success of the program is the result of a spirit of collaboration between WS/FCS and these two university teacher education programs, and we so greatly appreciate the WS/FCS faculty and staff for spending time with our pre-service teachers to help them learn more about the inner workings of this large, urban school district."
Megan Kasper said: "This is our fifth year partnering with WSFCS and Wake Forest University's Department of Education, and our first year online! In years past, we have also had the opportunity to visit schools such as Brunson Elementary School, Cook Model Literacy School, Speas Global Elementary, Wiley Magnet School, and Reynolds High School.”
“Just as K-12 teachers have been called to rethink learning this past year, our collaborative partners came together to rethink how we could host our annual event amidst COVID-19.”
“Our program’s curriculum in the third year challenges our scholars to consider education organizationally. It is important for teacher leaders to understand how they can effectively advocate within the systems they are a part of.”
“This learning opportunity also allows them to explore possible career paths in educational leadership and administration. We are immensely grateful to the staff and leadership at WS/FCS for organizing this event virtually so our preservice teachers could benefit from learning more about how a large urban school district operates."
Other WS/FCS participants included:
Caleb Angolo – Child Nutrition
Magan Wiggins – Student Choice
Tracy Pittman – Exceptional Children (EC)
Mary Todd Allen – EC
Susan Battigelli - EC
World Languages – David Sisk
HR/Recruitment – Bree Christensen
Finance – Candice Clifton
Transportation – Chris Cox