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New teachers give Jefferson Co. an 'A'

November 16, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The teacher pay might be higher in neighboring Loudoun County, Va., but it doesn't interest C.J. Stevens.

For one thing, Stevens doesn't want to commute.

Another reason he would rather teach school in Jefferson County is because he thinks the school system is managed well and he likes the principles of local school officials.

Stevens, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade language arts at Shepherdstown Middle School, said the students are serious about their work.

"I feel I have a vested interest in the community here," said Stevens, who has lived in the county for 16 years.

Stevens was part of a group of new Jefferson County school teachers honored Tuesday night during an annual banquet hosted by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

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It was the 43rd year the chamber of commerce has honored new teachers, a group that draws a particular interest among people in the county.

"They're going to touch everybody's lives," said Mary Via, executive director of the chamber of commerce.

The county hired 105 new teachers this year and the chamber formally welcomed them to town with a social hour and dinner at the Clarion. The teachers chatted with local officials outside a banquet room before the dinner and were treated to free trinkets like Bank of Charles Town pens and key rings from Guys Buick car dealership.

Stevens used to teach public school but retired. Before taking his local teaching job, Stevens was operating adult education programs through the federal bureau of prisons in Baltimore.

"I wanted to work with kids again," Stevens said.

There has been concern about large numbers of teachers in the area taking higher-paying teaching jobs in neighboring states.

But the banquet showed that not everyone is interested in large salaries.

Like Stevens, newly hired teacher Jim Watkins doesn't want to commute.

Watkins commuted plenty when he worked at Washington, D.C., in jobs like press secretary for former U.S. Rep. Harley Staggers, D-W.Va., and director of public affairs for the National Treasury Employees Union.

"Commuting can wear on you. The money is good in the city and Virginia maybe, but there has to be a quality of life issue. I would rather be in the community," said Watkins, who began teaching three marketing classes at Jefferson High School this year and two introduction to business classes at the Ninth Grade Complex.

Karina Thompson was hired to teach English at Jefferson High School this year. She was not impressed by higher-paying teaching jobs either.

"Part of it is the drive," said Thompson, who lives in Martinsburg.

"I was also raised in Jefferson County, so I'm giving back to the community," Thompson said.

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