Teachers go back to school

August 10, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - For about 185 Washington County Public Schools teachers, the school year is already under way.

The teachers, who are new to the school system, took part this week in a New Teachers Academy, now in its fifth year.

Carol Corwell-Martin, supervisor for the Center for Peak Performance & Productivity, said the teachers learned about county policies, curriculum, classroom management and other topics. The academy continues today at South Hagerstown High School, and teachers will spend two days next week in their schools.

On Thursday, they worked directly with teachers who teach what they will be teaching this year.

"The feedback and the comments have been extremely positive," Corwell-Martin said.

Here is a look at some of the teachers who are attending:

Jill Mellott, 29

Mellott taught for seven years in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., before coming to Washington County Public Schools this year to teach second grade at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education.


She taught kindergarten and third grade, and was a reading specialist at Widmyer Elementary, where she attended school as a child.

Part of the incentive to come to Washington County was the money. She said she'll receive a significant pay raise by teaching locally.

"I like that a-ha moment children get when they finally realize something after trying to get it," she said. "You have more a-ha moments with younger students. They're eager to learn and they want to be filled with information."

Kiley Krape, 22

Krape recently graduated from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and will teach first grade at Lincolnshire Elementary School.

Krape said she majored in elementary education in college with a minor in reading because she wants children to be successful in life. And she wants them to be engaged learners.

Teaching empowers and excites her. Krape said she wants to teach her students to be lifelong learners and know that mistakes are OK.

"You learn from mistakes," she said. "That's how you grow and learn."

Krape moved from Pennsylvania to Hagerstown and said she is not only starting a new job, but a new life here.

"I'm really excited," she said. "I'm excited to grow and meet new people."

Leo Asad, 34, and Megan Emily Asad, 30

The Asads had lucrative careers working with computers, but found they were working 60 hour weeks with no time to start a family.

So, they dropped out of the work force and went back to school at the University of South Florida. They've both been teaching for four years, and Megan said what they lost in salary they made up in time they spend together and with their 3-year-old daughter.

Leo will teach 11th-grade world history this year at North Hagerstown High School, and Megan will teach sixth-grade language arts at Western Heights Middle.

"Teaching is what I love to do," she said. "We have more time with our daughter. You get to be around kids, play with ideas and shape citizens."

Leo said he has taught geography, world history, American history and other topics. He will spend the first semester of the school year at North Hagerstown High, but will teach for the second semester at Hancock Middle-Senior High.

The Asads have been married 11 years, and most recently taught in Tampa, Fla.

A reason for moving to Washington County was the type of students they will be teaching, Megan said. Where she taught in Tampa, just over 50 percent of students graduated.

"That was depressing," she said.

Annie Duffus, 27

Duffus has a passion for science, and she's hoping her students will share her excitement through interactive classroom exercises.

She'll be teaching eighth-grade physical science at Springfield Middle School. Duffus graduated in May with her master of arts in teaching from Frostburg State University.

She also earned a bachelor's degree there in biology and psychology. After earning one of the degrees, Duffus said she worked with the Department of Natural Resources, and eventually began substitute teaching.

"I knew that education and science were going to be a good mix for me," she said.

Brenda Thiam, 37

Thiam has worked with students with autism for about 12 years.

Most recently, she was director of education at a private school in Montgomery County, Md., for students with autism. She'll begin the school year in Washington County as the school system's autism specialist.

Thiam said she'll be a resource for teachers and parents, who want to help autistic students succeed.

"Not all children learn alike," she said. "(Teaching) has to be adapted to the learning styles of the child."

While Thiam only recently took a job in the county, she and her husband and 2-year-old daughter moved to the area late last year. She commuted for five months to Montgomery County until the job with Washington County Public Schools became available.

"I wanted the public school experience," Thiam said. "It's about quality of life. I really longed for a different environment."

Matt Casolo, 25

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