With a new school year comes new instructors, and Wednesday morning Turlock Unified School District’s 57 newest members were met with a warm reception at New Teacher Orientation, where they learned the ins and outs of the District in preparation for the first day of school.
The District added 19 new positions this school year, including a Science Instructional Coach, an Elementary Music Teacher, a Career Technical Education Teacher for Business and an Inclusion Specialist. These new positions accounted for part of the nearly 60 new hires this year, which is a positive sign for the District in the midst of a statewide teacher shortage, said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Julie Eastburn.
“There continues to be a statewide teacher shortage, but because of early recruiting efforts, close community ties and the positive relationship with CSU Stanislaus, the impact of the shortage on TUSD was minimal,” said Eastburn.
Stanislaus State students enrolled in the university’s Multiple Subject Credential Program are able to receive hands-on experience in classrooms throughout TUSD, thanks to a collaborative partnership between the District and the college. Molly Farrar, who will begin her first year as a fifth grade teacher at Crowell Elementary School on Monday, is a product of that relationship.
While enrolled in the program during the spring of 2017, Farrar was able to student teach alongside Bret Sutterley, a fifth grade teacher at Walnut Elementary School. There, she received invaluable mentoring, which she has now brought into the classroom.
“He taught me to just let the kids work and let them pursue their interests and curiosities, because I always thought it had to be super structured,” said Farrar. “He told me, ‘They’re so capable of doing and learning.’ It’s about giving them the tools and letting them go from there.”
The student teaching program at Stanislaus State has allowed TUSD to hire some of the most qualified teachers in Stanislaus County, said Eastburn.
“Our combined efforts have allowed us to begin the hiring process earlier than most because of the supportive relationship with program professors and the opportunities they continue to provide us to for sharing TUSD’s vision and initiatives,” she said.
One such teacher is Farrar, who was able to take what she learned from Sutterley and use it throughout her first year of teaching, which was during the 2016-2017 school year at Lompoc Unified School District in Southern California. The Turlock Christian High School graduate decided to return home this year to teach, and her connection with Sutterley brought her to the teaching position within TUSD she has now.
“He recommended me to them and let them know I was coming,” she said. “He knows a lot of people within the District and in administration, so that was really nice that he could help me out.”
According to Eastburn, many TUSD students who go on to become teachers return to the District to begin their careers in education.
“We take this as an absolute compliment because many share they return because their own personal educational experiences were very positive and supportive…and they want to provide the same for other young people,” said Eastburn.
Though Farrar did not attend TUSD schools, her experience working within the District during her time as a student teacher made her want to return home to teach, in addition to being closer to family.
“I’ve heard great things about teaching in this District,” said Farrar. “Student teaching and doing my undergrad in this District showed me that it’s awesome. The teachers are great and everything within this District has been a great experience for me, so that was incentive to come back.”
At orientation, Farrar and the District’s other new teachers were introduced to the various departments within TUSD and how those departments support student learning.
“If I have a specific question, now I know where to go and who to talk to, which is nice,” said Farrar.
The teachers were also given tutorials on the Aesop absence reporting system and the Aeries student data system. The Turlock Teachers Association was also on hand to welcome the new teachers to the District, and explained the benefits that come with being a part of the association.
While Farrar learned plenty at New Teacher Orientation, she’s excited to continue her career path here at home.
“I’m just excited to be more involved in the community and get to know these kids and their families,” said Farrar. “I want to make those connections.”