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40 new school teachers learn Havasu's ways

 New teachers are mentored about the fine point of classroom management.
New teachers are mentored about the fine point of classroom management.

As Lake Havasu Unified School District students savored their last few days of summer vacation, 40 of their 260 teachers were attending a school of their own this week.

The district’s 40 newly-hired teachers for the 2019-2020 school year have been meeting at the high school’s library to learn the ins and outs of Lake Havasu City’s school culture, classroom management guidelines and technology capabilities.

“We explain what we expect from a professional educator in this district,” said Christie Olsen. “They’ll understand what the business of teaching is in the Lake Havasu Unified School District.”

Olsen and Ginny Sautner are Master Teacher Mentors and have been leading the week-long orientation sessions. Their lesson plans for the get-acquainted exercise is based on a highly detailed program the two women created. Olsen and Sautner will continue to mentor the new teachers as the school year progresses. The new educators also will have on-site teacher mentors at their individual schools.

“The district offers consistent support throughout the year. Professional development is a large part of what we do,” Sautner said. “We begin with these orientation sessions, to speed up the learning curve.”

Not all the instruction takes place within the confines of the high school’s library. The new teachers will spend two afternoons at their respective schools to meet with their principals and teacher mentors.

Of the 40 newly-hired teachers, 10 were already Havasu residents before they joined the district, Olsen said. Twenty of the new hires are new to the profession.

Raigan McGuire is one of those. She’s a 2016 Lake Havasu High School graduate who earned college credits at Mohave Community College while she was still in high school. She earned her teaching degree from Northern Arizona University through MCC. McGuire worked as a paraprofessional last year for the school district while she finished earning her college degree.

“I will be a first grade teacher at Oro Grande,” she said, noting that she chose to remain in her hometown of Havasu.

“There was not really a reason not to stay here,” McGuire said.

By mid-morning on Tuesday, there was a low buzz in the room as the teachers in orientation talked quietly amongst themselves about setting ground rules for their classrooms. Olsen appeared pleased that every person was actively participating in each group’s discussion. She remarked that this year’s crop of new teachers were quick to develop a sense of camaraderie.

“Right away, they were interacting and talking to each other. They’ve come together as a community. They’re a really dynamic group,” she said. “It’s going to be an amazing school year.”

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Pam Ashley, Today's News-Herald
Jul 24, 2019


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