Re­turn­ing to the fold

Charles County grads come back as new teach­ers in school sys­tem

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE AN­FEN­SON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Ap­prox­i­mately 200 new teach­ers from all over the coun­try will be greet­ing Charles County Pub­lic Schools stu­dents when they re­turn to class Mon­day. But for some new in­struc­tors, the first day of school will be a home­com­ing of sorts.

When Lind­sey Wat­son, a new spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher at the F.B. Gwynn Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter, re­ported for new teacher pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment Aug. 15, the in­struc­tor was her first grade teacher, Kim Hudler, now lead read­ing spe­cial­ist for el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion.

In ad­di­tion, her first grade class­mate Brooke Garner was also in at­ten­dance. Garner is start­ing as a fifth grade teacher at Wil­liam Diggs El­e­men­tary School this year.

“I didn’t know if I should go with how old that made me feel, or how hon­ored, but I de­cided to go with how hon­ored,” Hudler said. “They grew up here and they came back and want to give back to the com­mu­nity where they grew up.”

On Mon­day, the school sys­tem an­nounced it has hired 197 new teach­ers for the school

year.

Last year, the school sys­tem’s hu­man re­sources depart­ment re­ported that ap­prox­i­mately two-thirds of new hires came from out-of-state. Fig­ures for the cur­rent crop of new hires will not be avail­able un­til later in the school year, ac­cord­ing to school of­fi­cials, but hu­man re­sources re­ported to the school sys­tem that it was work­ing to en­cour­age more alumni to re­turn to Charles County to teach.

Wat­son de­scribed com­ing back to the county for work as a dream come true.

“I al­ways wanted to come back and I al­ways wanted to work at the Gwynn Cen­ter, but I never ex­pected they’d have any open­ings,” Wat­son said. “I lucked out.”

Wat­son has ties to the Gwynn Cen­ter as well. Her grand­mother, Joyce Mon­roe, had been a school nurse there be­fore she re­tired.

Wat­son said she has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the eighth grade.

“I had a lot of teach­ers I re­ally ad­mired, and I thought it would be cool to grade pa­pers and be the one in charge,” re­called Wat­son, a 2011 La Plata High School grad­u­ate.

Wat­son, who grad­u­ated from Tow­son Uni­ver­sity last May, said the tran­si­tion to be­com­ing a teacher is eas­ier in a school sys­tem she al­ready knows.

“It was a com­fort to be able to come back to some­where I knew all the names and places. Charles County has such great schools, so to be a teacher here is re­ally kind of cool,” Wat­son said.

Garner, Wat­son’s former first grade class­mate, set up her class­room this week with help from her grand­mother, Robin Pig­ott, who vis­ited from North Carolina for the oc­ca­sion.

“I’ve been put­ting my cur­ricu­lum to­gether, my les­son plans to­gether, put my room to­gether, with my Nana. I couldn’t have done any of this with­out her,” Garner said.

Garner said she has wanted to be­come a teacher for as long as she could re­mem­ber, and that Hudler was an in­spi­ra­tion for her.

“She kind of sparked my in­ter­est in teach­ing,” Garner said. “She was just a phenom­e­nal teacher.”

Garner grad­u­ated from Thomas Stone High School in 2011.

While com­plet­ing her de­gree through Tow­son’s “2-Plus-2” pro­gram with the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land, Garner did her stu­dent teach­ing in St. Mary’s County.

“Now that I’m here, though, I love it, I love my team and it’s been great so far, th­ese last two weeks,” Garner said.

Garner said that af­ter 13 years as a stu­dent in Charles County, she’s now ready to be on the other side.

“I’ve loved a lot of my teach­ers grow­ing up, so I just hope that my stu­dents will have the same re­spect and love for me,” Garner said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the cur­ricu­lum, but in my mind, it’s more about mak­ing an im­pres­sion on the kids, even if it’s only one kid.”

For Joseph Evans, a new eighth grade sci­ence teacher at Mat­ta­woman Mid­dle School, the halls he now walks are eerily fa­mil­iar. Evans at­tended Mat­ta­woman him­self be­fore go­ing on to grad­u­ate North Point High School in 2011.

Evans said ed­u­ca­tion wasn’t his first ca­reer choice, but af­ter one se­mes­ter ma­jor­ing in sports man­age­ment, he knew that field wasn’t the right fit for him. Evans said the in­flu­ence of his teach­ers at North Point and then-Prin­ci­pal Kim­berly Hill, now su­per­in­ten­dent for the school sys­tem, made him re­al­ize what he wanted to do most was pur­sue ed­u­ca­tion.

“I saw how my teach­ers had im­pacted me and helped me get on the right path,” Evans said.

Evans worked as an in­struc­tional as­sis­tant for the school sys­tem while study­ing on­line to get his teach­ing de­gree. He ac­tu­ally be­gan at Mat­ta­woman last year as an in­struc­tional as­sis­tant, but this year will be his first as a teacher.

Evans said he never con­sid­ered teach­ing any­where other than Charles County.

“I al­ways knew I wanted to work in the school dis­trict that did so much for me, that I grad­u­ated from. I know the com­mu­nity, and ba­si­cally, what my teach­ers did for me, I want to do for the next gen­er­a­tion in Charles County,” Evans said.

Down the hall from Evans, Jay Jor­dan was set­tling in as Mat­ta­woman’s new choral mu­sic teacher.

Jor­dan also grew up in Charles County, grad­u­at­ing from Henry E. Lackey High School in 2008.

“Chuck County, born and raised,” Jor­dan said.

Jor­dan said he re­al­ized he wanted to be­come a teacher at­tend­ing Lackey.

“When col­lege time was rolling around, I fig­ured I’d do some­thing that played to my strengths, and do some­thing that I en­joyed, which was mu­sic, and my mu­sic teach­ers had the big­gest im­pact on me,” Jor­dan said. “So I thought I could be that in­flu­ence for some­one else, and why not do that in Charles County, where I grew up?”

Jor­dan said his mu­sic teacher Kris­ten Lis­ton was a huge in­flu­ence on his de­ci­sion to go into teach­ing. Lis­ton, now at Mil­ton Somers Mid­dle School, is serv­ing as Jor­dan’s teacher men­tor this year.

“She was there for me, for aca­demics, for per­sonal stuff, she im­pacted my life very much,” Jor­dan said.

Jor­dan, who grad­u­ated from Tow­son in 2014, served as a long-term mu­sic sub­sti­tute at Ben­jamin Stod­dert Mid­dle School be­fore go­ing to Bal­ti­more County, but said it was al­ways his goal to teach in Charles County.

“This has been a longterm dream come true. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true for me,” Jor­dan said. “No mat­ter what peo­ple say about Charles County, good or bad, it is where I got my ed­u­ca­tion; ev­ery­thing that I’m able to do, I learned in this school sys­tem, in this com­mu­nity. So I feel that if I was to give back to any­one … why not to the area that helped make me who I am? Why not help make it bet­ter?”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE AN­FEN­SON-COMEAU

Choral mu­sic teacher Jay Jor­dan stands in the door­way of his class­room at Mat­ta­woman Mid­dle School. Jor­dan is a grad­u­ate of Henry E. Lackey High School.

Fifth grade teacher Brooke Garner in her class­room at Wil­liam Diggs El­e­men­tary School. Garner is a 2011 grad­u­ate of Thomas Stone High School.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE AN­FEN­SON-COMEAU/

Sci­ence teacher Joseph Evans feeds his class tur­tle in his class­room at Mat­ta­woman Mid­dle School. Evans, who at­tended Mat­ta­woman in sixth grade, is a 2011 grad­u­ate of North Point High School.

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