St. Charles starts the school year off right

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Staff Reporter

LULING – School is finally underway again in St. Charles Parish, but for first-year instructors and teachers new to the school system, the fun began a few weeks ago as St. Charles Parish Schools hosted its new teacher orientation workshop, five days of overviews, hands-on activities, introductions and a complete immersion into a new school system and family.  

Addressing scores of attentive new teachers at the opening ceremony on an early Tuesday morning, Rachel Allemand, executive director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the main focus of the workshop would be to instill in the teachers as much confidence as possible going into the year. “Teachers should be comfortable from the first day,” she said, adding that the new hires might be overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to them during the busy week.

The teachers were also introduced to several SCPPS administrators and the parish principals on the first day. Superintendent Rodney Lafon, while he couldn’t be there in person, managed to make an appearance and carry on his tradition of being one of the first to welcome teachers to St. Charles Parish. Lafon prerecorded a brief welcome message for the new teachers, appearing larger than life on two massive projection screens at the front of the room.

Before the teachers were dispersed throughout the facility into smaller groups, they were each given a red folder containing among other things the week’s agenda, information pertaining to the parish schools intranet system, a new email account and the name of a mentor or coach they were assigned for the school year.

First-year teachers were assigned mentors and experienced teachers received “coaches” to ease the transition into the new school system. Later in the day, the teachers ate lunch with the mentors and principals.

In the main auditorium where the K-6 teachers remained for their first session, the very first thing asked of the new teachers was to construct a paper airplane. After a few minutes, each teacher held up a different version of the assignment.

One teacher, asked to explain why she had made her plane different from her neighbor’s, said she had been told what to do but not how.

“That’s right,” came the response from the group leader at the front of the room. “Sometimes we show our kids something one time without any explanation and expect them to just get it.”

Across the hall, middle school and high school teachers were engaged in their first presentation, “Elements of a Successful Lesson: Design and Delivery.”

The workshop came to a close about a week before classes began, leaving the teachers enough time to catch their breath.