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DeKalb Chamber of Commerce starts school year with new teacher welcome event

August 11, 2018

DeKALB – For new Brooks Elementary School principal Andria Mitchell, the beginning of a new school year is a time of reflection. It’s a time to take a deep breath and get ready and excited for a new start, she said.

Mitchell, who accepted the position this summer after the previous principal resigned recently, said she’s been with the district since 2003, before the annual New Teacher Welcome and State of the District address event became an annual thing. She said she was already an area native and felt welcomed by her peers when she began teaching within DeKalb schools, but she can see how something like the new teacher welcome event on Friday could help educators completely new to the area feel a little more at ease.

“I think, now that we’ve started it, it’s a good thing to keep happening – a good event to keep doing every year,” Mitchell said.

Matt Duffy, executive director for the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, said this was the chamber’s ninth year hosting the event. He said the purpose is to make sure new teachers feel welcome and comfortable as they become part of the DeKalb family.

Duffy said funds raised from event registration and sponsorships also go toward a $1,000 scholarship and a $500 scholarship for students. He said the event has given 13 scholarships total since its inception.

Duffy said it’s a good chance for new teachers and school staff to get a more holistic view of the community.

“We want that first impression to be a strong one,” Duffy said.

Peter Goff, the new athletic director for DeKalb High School, said he has had more than 25 years of experience in schools and has been to these types of events before. He said it’s good for communities to have this kind of event because it’s a good way for new teachers to get to know people and to kick things off.

Goff, also a longtime DeKalb resident, said he’s had a good impression of the staff and community so far as a new teacher. He said it’s very rarely always sunshine and roses in any district, but there are also positive things to note about the community, such as newer academic facilities and nearby higher education opportunities.

“Everyone seems to want to dwell on the negatives, but there’s a lot of great things that happen here,” Goff said.

Superintendent Jamie Craven said during his State of the District address that he remembered how it felt to come in as a new administrator a year ago. He said he vividly recalls pacing back and forth and looking for a garbage can to throw up in from being so nervous about his first State of the District address.

Craven said the point of sharing his story was to emphasize that it’s OK for new teachers and staff to be anxious on their first day and that he’s been there. He said there might be some bad days that happen during the school year, but it’s important to move past those bad days and for educators to keep in mind how they mold the lives of their students every day.

“Remember why you got into this profession,” Craven said. “Remember why you’re here.”

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