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Hagerstown business community hosts reception for new educators

August 13, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Christina Gaudio and Nick Lazzaro share laughs with other new Washington County teachers Tuesday at a reception at North Hagerstown High School for new educators. Both will teach English at Smithsburg High School.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

Stephanie Jones and Sarah Burgan both knew they wanted to be teachers when they graduated from South Hagerstown High School and headed to Frostburg State University.

Now Jones and Burgan, both 22, have come home to become teachers.

The two were among about 120 new Washington County Public School teachers who attended a Tuesday reception sponsored by the business community.

The Greater Hagerstown Committee and the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce co-hosted the Michael G. Callas New Educators Reception at North Hagerstown High in the middle of a three-day academy to help new educators.

Teachers will spend the third day of the academy Wednesday at their home schools, said Joni Burkhart of the school system’s human resources department.

Burgan, who transferred to Shepherd College, was a student teacher last school year with biology teacher Bill Fowkes at Smithsburg High School. She will teach biology at Boonsboro High School this year.

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Burgan said she had classes that she “absolutely loved,” and wanted to be like those teachers.

Burgan, who lives in Hagerstown, said her mom also taught science, including to her, at Emma K. Doub Elementary School.

Jones, who attended E. Russell Hicks Elementary School and South High, will teach fourth grade at Eastern Elementary School during this school year.

“I’ve always loved kids, always want to be around them, and I just want to give back cause I felt like teachers, growing up, always gave me all of their effort and dedication,” said Jones, who graduated from South High in 2009.

As for why she returned to the school system she attended, Jones said she really liked the area.

“I’m looking forward to just getting to know my kids,” she said.

Matt Nees, 32, is originally from Chicago, but moved to Martinsburg, W.Va., where his wife is from, four years ago. He will teach U.S. history to ninth graders at North High and world history to 11th graders.

“The fact that I get paid to work and talk about history all day long is awesome,” Nees said.

“I love interacting with kids,” said Nees, who was a long-term substitute teacher for the school system last school year. He also has previous experience working at St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown.

Nick Lazzaro, 24, is from Pittsburgh, but was looking for a job in the Maryland/Virginia area and got one teaching English at Smithsburg High this year.

“So far, I’m very impressed with the school system,” he said.

Lazzaro said he was happy to see the business community greet the new teachers.

“I think it’s very neat that they’re so welcoming to us, and they want us to be a part of their community,” Lazzaro said.

In addition to several business and community leaders addressing the teachers during their luncheon, about 25 businesses had tables set up around the cafeteria so new educators could learn more about local offerings.

Among the vendors were banks, higher education organizations, South Pointe Fitness Club, the Washington County Teachers Association, Hagerstown Honda, Hampton Inn, Volvo, and local entertainment options such as the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Dameca Oliver, 24, of Hagerstown said she ran into her former South High principal, Rick Akers, who asked how many Rebels were in the group of new teachers.

“It’s really nice to come back to the county where I graduated from,” said Oliver, who will teach fifth grade at Pangborn Elementary School in Hagerstown.

“I always had the passion to teach, so at a very early age I wanted to be the person that it clicked for students. To be, like, ‘Oh Ms. Oliver taught me that in fifth grade.’ I always want to be that inspiration to students ....” Oliver said.

Lisa Waters, 42, said she moved from Texarkana, Texas, to Chambersburg, Pa., three years ago when her husband, Dennis, got a job with Raytheon at Letterkenny Army Depot.

A science teacher in Texarkana, Waters said she will teach science to seventh and eighth graders at Smithsburg Middle School.

“Maryland has a rigorous ... curriculum. It’s ... similar to the curriculum I taught in Texas, so it seemed like a good fit,” she said.

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