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Former Berkeley County student returns to district to teach

August 27, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Joshua Chambers never thought he would become a public schoolteacher, let alone join the ranks of the more then 1,200 professional staff of the school district that he navigated through several years ago as a student.

Tuesday was the 26-year-old newly hired Berkeley County educator's first day teaching life and study skills to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at North Middle School.

"It was probably one of the first times in my life I wasn't nervous," said Chambers, who attended South Middle School as a youngster before his parents moved to southern Berkeley County.

"North has changed a lot since I went to school," Chambers said.

Chambers admits middle school was not his first choice for teaching opportunities, and remembered that his own experience "definitely wasn't my favorite part of my life."

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But Chambers said he came to the conclusion that he couldn't really "judge" something that hasn't happened.

"So far, I don't want to run ..." Chambers said.

At the end of his first day, Chambers reported that the students in his six classes were "pretty attentive."

"The kids seemed to be pretty excited to be back," Chambers said.

Chambers' past experiences working with people of all ages in the world of dance helped him prepare.

Chambers graduated from Shenandoah University in May 2007 with a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance education.

Chambers' academic study afforded worldwide travel experiences, and before his decision to try to land a public school teaching job, Chambers worked with school show choirs and taught private dance lessons. He also completed a five-month contract working as part of an entertainment act on a cruise ship.

"It's a lonely life," Chambers said of the experience.

After many years of dancing, Chambers said he began to feel like he had the body of a 45-year-old.

"I do like the kids. I do think I have something to offer them," Chambers said of his real world experiences.

As of Tuesday, Berkeley County Schools hired 135 new teachers, Assistant Superintendent D. Rick Deuell said.

Deuell said the school district might need to hire a few more given that several schools have grades that are full and some elementary schools are "on the bubble" for adding a new teacher.

As of Tuesday, Deuell reported the school district had a total of 1,274 professional staff, including the new hires.

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