Elaine Meyers special for the citizen
On August 30, the Southern Cayuga Central School District welcomed 18 new teachers and staff to its community. Emily Howland has 11 new teachers, assistants and a security guard, and the high school is adding seven teachers and a counselor. I had the privilege of meeting them on their lunch break during new teacher orientation and having a chat during lunch break. I remembered my early years of teaching and was not surprised that these teachers were willing to do more than just eat from noon to 1 p.m.
Moving from table to table, I asked four standard questions: why did you become a teacher, what brought you to our school, what are your goals, and how will you know you have successful. I was so impressed with their responses and didn’t meet anyone I wouldn’t have liked in my class if I was a student. Southern Cayuga is a positive exception, documented in national news, to the crisis facing many schools unable to attract or retain quality teachers.
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As I reread my notes and started to write, a word, LEAP, appeared in the margins: L for literacy, E for environment, A for activity, and P for passion. The words of our new teachers will encourage students, staff and our community as we embark on our new 2022-23 school year.
L is for literacy. Literacy emerged when a new high school science teacher said that “literacy is the key to learning…kids need to know how to read.” “Yes,” agreed a new English teacher. “A school’s literacy rate is an essential indicator of children’s progress. When they enjoy reading, they will be lifelong learners. Immediately, an ESL teacher remarked that we were so lucky to be able to foster literacy in more than one language. “We are so fortunate to have students who bring Spanish fluency to our educational community and families who support all efforts to ensure their children are literate in English and Spanish.” A new Spanish teacher continued the theme with her excitement to learn that students could have four years of teaching Spanish in Southern Cayuga. Many teachers said they were in other countries where people realized that fluency in more than one language would improve both their job and educational opportunities.
E is for the environment. “We have a real community in our school. The number of classrooms allows students to have the individualized attention everyone needs. I know this because I was a student here. Among the new teachers, some were former students, some parents of students attending the school, and some related to former or current teachers. Others had done their research before applying. “I grew up in a rural county and had one-on-one attention. I’ve also heard nothing but good things about Southern Cayuga.” “Everyone for miles around comes to see your theatrical productions — fall plays and spring musicals. You have a way of creating stars on stage, and their abilities grow with each performance.” internship here and I was sold!” Several teachers spoke of their positive reaction to their interviews. Time and time again, new teachers referenced the positive environment of community support, great opportunities in the classroom and in sports. and other extracurricular activities. “Participating in sports gave me a strong group of friends. We traveled and I made friends on other teams. Sports took me a step further. way that academics didn’t. Sometimes sports were what kept some friends from coming to school when they were having a hard time at home. We have great teams and coaches.”
A is for activity. Preschool teachers and support staff talked about activities that would prepare their young students for success in the early years. “As a child, I played in school. My dolls were the students and I was the teacher. I understand the value of play not only in learning, but in setting unique personal learning goals.” The secondary science teacher added, “I want my students to think like a scientist and see science in the world around them. Science is just as good as reading. A primary teacher continued, “Activities promote learning and let students know that if they focus on a task and keep working hard, they will achieve their goal and learn a lot along the way.
P is for passion. Students achieving their goals in the classroom, on stage or on the sports field, and in any arena of their choosing, has been the spark of passion for all new teachers. I will never forget the speech therapist who held my gaze as she announced, “My students will be able to say what they want, when they want, to whom they want. A preschool teacher smiled and said success with her students often resulted in spontaneous hugs. “I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they learn something and want to share their new understanding.” “I have so much hope for our future. I know we can ignite their passion for learning, just as our teachers have ignited ours. We illuminate the path we have learned from our own inspiring teachers.
Elaine Meyers of King Ferry is a board member of King Ferry Food Pantry, ABC Cayuga and the Southern Cayuga Anne Frank Tree Project, and a member of the Southern Cayuga Garden Club. She coordinates a literacy support program at Southern Cayuga Central School.