Making connections: First-year BCPS teachers find instant support

 

Photo of Marissa Johnson and Cassandra Randis, new teachers at Riverview Elementary.

Fast friends: Cassandra Randis and Marissa Johnson are both first-year teachers at Riverview Elementary in Lansdowne. They walked together through the halls at New Teacher Orientation at Perry Hall High.

PERRY HALL — It was Marissa Johnson’s first day as a Baltimore County Public Schools special education teacher, and she was flanked by a new friend.

Walking right next to her was Cassandra Randis. It was her first day, too.

Both are recent college graduates: Johnson from Towson University and Randis from East Stroudsburg University. For so long, both have been aspiring teachers. Now those dreams are becoming reality.

Soon, they will welcome students into their classrooms at Riverview Elementary School in Lansdowne. Before then, Johnson, Randis and the more than 900 new Team BCPS teachers attended orientation at Perry Hall High School.

They heard from Interim Superintendent Verletta White. They acquired their official BCPS One cards. They took part in valuable breakout sessions. Their three-day orientations were crammed with important information.

And in those classrooms, during breaks, and at lunch, new teachers started making contacts that would help them along the way. First year teachers need support. And from the second they walked into Perry Hall High, they started receiving it.

Johnson’s equity session was led by two White Oak School paraeducators who are such close friends that they refer to each other as their work spouses.

“Don’t worry,” one of the paraeducators said, “you’ll find your work spouse too.”

In other words, you’ll find friends who you can share ideas with and mentors who will be there for advice.

By lunchtime, Johnson and Randis were walking together in the Perry Hall High hallways.

While at Towson, Johnson interned at Cromwell Valley Regional Magnet School and Catonsville Elementary. She met many hard-working teachers, and she knew BCPS is where she wanted to begin her teaching career.

And then Johnson quickly turned to Randis and started sharing her story. The two already knew each other well enough to do that.

Randis was a Dean’s list regular at East Stroudsburg, located a few miles from the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. She was seeking to work in a diverse community like Baltimore County. It seemed like the perfect fit.

And she’s already making friends like Johnson who will support her.

Meanwhile, Woodholme Elementary Principal Teresa Young is not new. She is in her fourth year as principal. With more first-year teachers than usual, she decided to attend New Teacher Orientation so she could say hello to her new hires.

Which led to this group photo on Day 1:

“It was so fun to be there and greet them and get them together with the other staff that I’m going to do it every year, even if I have only one new teacher,” Young said. “I want to be that familiar/friendly face who is there waiting for them when they arrive and be that facilitator who introduces the new staff to each other.”

And the support won’t stop there, of course. There will be a whole-school support system at Woodholme in addition to the usual assistance from the administration, S.T.A.T. teacher, reading specialist, and experienced teachers.

There will be a bus trip so they can get to know the area and communities that feed into Woodholme. There will be a mentor program for new teachers. There will be optional Woodholme University sessions, led by the S.T.A.T. teacher, to provide them with the opportunity to discuss personal development needs.

Not all the new teachers are fresh out of college. Mariclare Masterson spent five years teaching Grade 3 in Prince William County. After moving to the area, she will teach Grade 5 at Woodholme.

“It seems like a great community,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Throughout Team BCPS, new teachers were welcomed during their first week in a variety of warm ways.

At Logan Elementary:

At Deep Creek Middle:

At Johnnycake Elementary:

At Dundalk Middle:

At Woodlawn High, where gift bags were put together for new hires:

As you can see, returning BCPS administrators and employees were excited to meet their new peers. This from Jill Cox, the English Language Arts Department Chair at Dumbarton Middle:

Cox is sympathetic and ready to offer support! One of her new co-workers, Andrew Lovett, stopped to get his picture taken at orientation for his BCPS One card. He comes to Team BCPS from a neighboring county. He proudly calls himself a career changer. After working in restaurants and radio, he’s transitioned to becoming a teacher.

“There are a lot of great opportunities here,” he said, of Baltimore County.

Then he picked up his new BCPS One Card and walked out into the hallway, where he continued his first week of greeting his new co-workers and meeting his new supporters.

Photo of Dumbarton Middle math teacher Andrew Lovett.

New Dumbarton Middle math teacher Andrew Lovett poses for his ID photo that will be part of his BCPS One card.

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