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New hires bring desire, flexibility to TUSD
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Ramanjot Randhawa, a newly hired Turlock Unified School District teacher, prepares her kindergarten classroom at Wakefield Elementary. Randhawa grew up in Turlock, graduated from Turlock High School and earned her teaching credential at CSU Stanislaus. Randawa was one of 32 new teachers hired by TUSD. At the K-6 level more than 300 people applied for just a handful of positions. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Ramanjot Randhawa grew up in Turlock and went to Turlock Unified School District schools. She graduated from Turlock High as a star basketball player in the early 2000s, and after a brief time at San Joaquin Delta Junior College in Stockton, she returned to her home town to attend California State University, Stanislaus and major in Liberal Studies.

After her undergraduate work Randhawa earned a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential at CSU Stanislaus and this summer she joined hundreds of other candidates looking for a teaching job with TUSD.

Last school year Randhawa worked as a long term substitute teacher at Crowell Elementary — where she ran into of all people, her own first grade teacher Terry Souza, who is now the assistant principal at Crowell.

“She was happy to see what I’ve become,” said Randhawa.

This summer Randhawa was hired on a permanent basis and she will be teaching kindergarten at Wakefield Elementary.

It has been a dream come true. “I realized I wanted to be a teacher when I was at Delta and helping coach kids at the basketball camp, and now here I am and I can’t wait to start with my class,” she said.

On Thursday, Randhawa joined 31 others at TUSD’s New Teacher Orientation. For many the orientation was the culmination of a lot of hard work. Becoming a teacher is not an easy path.

In addition to meeting mandated qualifications teachers also had to satisfy a strict list of criteria.

“We were looking for teachers who could show us that they had the best instructional process to meet the needs of a diverse student population,” said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Heidi Lawler.

TUSD has a high number of English learners and prospective teachers had to display the ability and provide examples of how they could meet the needs of those students. According to Lawler, at the K-6 level, TUSD had to pick its new teachers from more than 300 candidates.

With many other school districts laying off teachers, Lawler said teachers with prior experience or previous long term TUSD substitutes, like Randhawa, fared better during the interview process.

With the current budget situation teachers are being asked to do more with less — something TUSD officials took into account when hiring new teachers.

“We look for flexibility to change — education is dynamic, evolving and ever-changing and we hired the teachers who showed us they had the desire for flexibility,” said Lawler.

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lacrisha Ferriera called this year’s class of new hires enthusiastic, energetic and inspired to deliver their very best.

“With this orientation we really have been getting across the importance of the first two weeks of school and that it will set them up for the whole year. As I was telling them how important it is to give their best every minute of every day — because we only have these kids for 180 days — I saw a lot of heads nodding up and down. This orientation has been the best we’ve ever had,” said Ferriera.

Lawler agreed with Ferriera’s assessment. “The new teachers have come across with enthusiasm and true passion to teach. They had to work very hard to get these jobs,” she said.

During the closing of the orientation Superintendent Sonny Da Marto encouraged the new teachers to aim high because TUSD has high expectations.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.