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New teachers prepare for new academic year

July 28, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Vacation is over.

For some new teachers, summer has meant unpacking four years of college bric-a-brac only to turn around and stock their first classroom with sharp pencils and used books.

It might not sound very exciting, but it couldn't get any better for Sara Belin, 23.

She just painted her first classroom butter yellow and placed a Boyds Bears border around the edges of Room 202. Belin spotted her name on a school mailbox the other day. She shrieked with delight.

"I can't wait," she said. "I enjoyed college, but to get to that point where I'm starting my career is very exciting."

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Belin, who taught for nearly an entire school year as an intern and then as a long-term substitute teacher at Bester Elementary School, will return there this fall as a fourth-grade teacher.

The December 2002 Shippensburg (Pa.) University graduate said the transition from substitute teacher to classroom teacher won't be very difficult. She knows the staff, the students and the principal and has been conferring with members of her team over the summer to come up with lesson plans.

For Megan Andrews, 22, the transition from college co-ed to Miss Andrews is hitting her pocketbook. She's been buying supplies for her third-grade classroom at Fountaindale School for the Arts and Academic Excellence over the course of the summer.

"I want to do that for the kids," she said.

The 2003 Frostburg State University graduate was happy to share news of a sale on Elmer's glue.

Belin shares in Andrews' thrifty spirit, but said she's not spending very much money to stock her classroom this summer. While she was a student, she asked her friends and family to get her school supplies in lieu of gifts for birthdays and holidays.

She's also scoured yard sales for the past few years to find children's books and just filled two bookcases' worth for her students.

Andrews, who graduated from Williamsport High School in 1999, said she'll push reading in her classroom, too.

"As long as they're smiling and willing when they fall back down to get back up, I can teach them," she said.

Matt Mauriello, 22, said all he really needs to teach is "a student, a book and a desk."

Mauriello, who will be an eighth-grade math teacher at Western Heights Middle School in the fall, said he hasn't bought supplies yet for his classroom but is envisioning a sports theme. Maybe he'll hang some football posters.

"I want my room to represent me," he said.

Mauriello, who graduated this year from McDaniel College, formerly known as Western Maryland College, said he won't push his love of sports too much while in class.

He said when he applied to become a county teacher, he didn't have a subject in mind to teach. The 1999 South Hagerstown High School graduate took calculus there, and said, "I wasn't a great 98 percent student. I was always a solid 92 percent student."

He believes he will have to get a math certification and/or take the middle school math PRAXIS test in order to be considered a highly qualified teacher under the federal No Child Left Behind act's mandates. But Mauriello, who has spent the past two years imbedded in classrooms as an intern, is not worried now about the act's certification requirements.

"I think I will be just as effective as someone with a math major," he said.

The federal No Child Left Behind act is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students, including disadvantaged groups, are academically proficient.

Andrews said every student will be treated equally in her class.

Belin, who finished tacking up two bulletin boards last week, said one says "Classroom 202. A Warm Welcome. The 202 crew."

The other bulletin board is blank. She said it likely will be decorated with her class' first assignment: "How I spent my summer vacation."

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