Teacher’s First Day
NEW CANAAN — Red vinyl lunch boxes were lined up carefully, each filled with a bag of chips. Name tags were sitting on a table. This isn’t a classroom on the first day of school. This was the scene at New Canaan High School where teachers came in for their first day of new teacher orientation.
New Canaan hired 44 new teachers for this year, plus three administrators, replacing roughly ten percent of their previous staff. Rather than throwing new employees headfirst, the district holds a three day new teacher orientation the week before school starts each year where teachers get the chance to learn more about what’s expected of them in New Canaan, as well as meet other new hires.
“This is a wonderfully exciting time of year to welcome all new teachers and to help them prepare for students arriving,” said Gary Kass, director of human resources for New Canaan public schools. “It’s a good thing to orient teachers to the district. For us, this has been a tradition. We want them to succeed wildly.”
The public schools human resources department organizes the orientation. On the first day, teachers are welcomed to the district by the the Board of Education, the New Canaan Education Association and New Canaan parents. They also learn more about New Canaan policies, such as crisis preparedness and curriculum and instruction.
This year the orientation was ran from Wednesday, Aug. 25 through Friday, Aug. 26.
On the second day, teachers once again gather for morning lectures, before traveling to their home schools for lunch and discussions on policies and expectations for things like homework, behavior and student policy. On the third day, teachers meet with their respective departments. The first two days begin with a continental breakfast which gives new teachers a chance to get to know each other.
“It’s mostly here to welcome them, but also for networking,” said Linda Bleiweis, who works for New Canaan’s schools human resources department. “It’s training for them.”
Orientation begins each day at 8 a.m. Teachers are greeted with a New Canaan Public Schools lunchbox containing a bag of chips, a meal voucher and a notepad with their name on it. They’re also given a binder filled with new teacher resources and references. Tables with fall themed centerpieces are set up for teachers and administrators to sit at while they have their breakfast and everyone wears a nametag to help get to know each other better.
Marc Foster, a new French teacher at the high school and Hollis Hefferan, a new second grade teacher at West Elementary School, were among the first to arrive to orientation. Both discussed their excitement about being in New Canaan, as well as their plans for the upcoming school year. Foster said he was excited to have his own classroom, which he hopes to make into a “Francophone space” and hoped to plan a French class trip to somewhere unique.
“Every student goes to Paris,” he said, citing Toulouse as one of the places in France he hopes to take students instead.
Hefferan said she was just excited to learn from the district, but was open to all sorts of different projects for the upcoming year.
“I like to see what’s out there,” she said.
As far as her new students go, Hefferan offered some words of wisdom to her fellow new New Canaanites.
“Every year you have a little bit of nervousness,” she said. “But I’m just so excited to meet everyone.”