Meet the superintendent
• What: Meet-and-greet for new Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee
• When: 6 p.m. Thursday
• Where: Performing Arts Center in Flemington
About 32 new teachers acted as role models for proper classroom behavior Tuesday by sitting quietly and attentively at their desks during a new-hire orientation at the Liberty County Board of Education.
Teachers new to the system and those returning to LCSS received a warm welcome from Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee and Board of Education Chairwoman Lily Baker.
Lee told teachers the system’s theme for this year is “navigating a course of excellence,” and the goal is to develop 21st century learners. Students should be well-rounded in history, civics, geography, science and math, encouraged to develop an appreciation for the arts along with acquiring technological skills, she said.
Lee also thanked teachers for choosing the teaching profession and for opting to teach in Liberty County public schools.
Baker said she is excited about new directions the system will take with the new superintendent. She told educators the school board is student- and staff-oriented.
Educators then were briefed on board policies, benefits, mandatory reporting, code of ethics, lesson-plan management, student attendance, grading and the keys used to evaluate teachers. New teachers also browsed vendors’ tables set up by community leaders in the BoE lobby during breaks.
“I really like the system,” said teacher Kiesha Owens, who is returning to Midway Middle School. Owens said she has two children who attend Liberty County public schools, one in kindergarten and one in high school.
“It’s a very progressive school system as far as technology and education go,” she said.
Special-education teacher Robyn Mueller is new to the system as an educator, but said she has invested a lot of time in Liberty County schools as both a parent and volunteer.
“I feel like I’m starting this journey with a new superintendent and a new principal at Snelson-Golden,” Mueller said. “We have great schools in Liberty County. We have people who care a lot about our children.”
Married teachers Michael and Kim Helms recently moved to Liberty County from St. Marys. Michael Helms will teach math at Liberty County High School, and his wife, Kim, will teach eighth-grade English at Midway Middle School. Helms said he and his wife wanted to live in a smaller community, and he wanted to teach in a relatively smaller school. He said teaching in a large school, like Camden County High School, makes it harder for teachers to get to know their students. CCHS has more than 2,800 students, according to education.com.
Liberty County school social workers recapped mandatory reporting with new teachers. Teachers are required by law to report any suspicion of child abuse within 24 hours of suspecting that any alleged abuse has occurred.
Social worker Pam Farrie listed the four types of abuse: neglect, sexual, physical and mental.
Some signs that a child might be suffering from neglect is if they come to school with insufficient clothing for the weather, or are absent from school frequently, Farrie said. She cautioned new teachers that these same symptoms might just point to a pattern of poverty, and not abuse. School social workers are there to help students and their families, Farrie said, and can refer parents to community resources should they need them. She urged new teachers to learn who the designated contact is at their individual schools, should they have to report abuse.
Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent for student services, reviewed school safety from fire drills to lockdowns, and went over several policies with new teachers, including filing grievances, leaves and absences, and bullying. All policies are posted on the system website, Alexander said.
“You can find me on the second floor,” she said. “I’m always here to help.”
The first day of school for teachers is Aug. 1. Students return to class Aug. 7.