Columbia County school officials welcomed a new crop of educators Tuesday.
New Harlem High School Assistant Principal Cory Ellis (right) eats lunch with new Harlem High special education teacher Mike Hopkins at the school systems New Teacher Orientation on Tuesday.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
More than 120 teachers learned the ropes of the Columbia County School System during the new teacher orientation at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. The daylong event helped acclimate new hires to their soon-to-be workplaces.
David Phillips, 22, spent a year in the Burke County system before taking a job as the new Earth sciences teacher at Lakeside Middle School.
"We had nothing like this in Burke County," he said about the luncheon. "This helps because I won't go into a new school completely unknown or without knowing anyone."
The system hired 122 new teachers to fill out its ranks.
"We had about 60 teachers retire and 40 new positions based on growth," Columbia County Schools Director of Human Resources Connie Davis said. "Others are from people who have moved on for one reason or another."
The number of new hires is down from last year when the system recruited about 160 new teachers. The year before that, the system hired nearly 200.
Davis is still looking to fill 15 vacancies in teaching and administrative positions.
"With a system this large, you're always looking for new people," she said. "Luckily, we have a really good system that a lot of people want to be a part of."
Recent Augusta State University graduate and new South Columbia Elementary teacher Carey Anne Aycock, 23, seemed pleased to be a part of the new hires.
"(Columbia County school officials) are always looking forward," she said. "That's something I want to be a part of, a growing system that is always wanting to be better."
Other new hires came for the greenery.
"The trees," responded new Harlem High School Assistant Principal Cory Ellis, 34, who gave up a position as a superintendent in Oklahoma to work in Columbia County.
"The school system I was in in Oklahoma was very small," Ellis said, relating the real reason he decided to move. "This system is much larger and more progressive. It was a great opportunity for me."
The orientation included conferences, a luncheon and pep talks from several school officials, including Columbia County Board of Education Chairwoman Roxanne Whitaker.
"Without your success, we can't be successful," she said.
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