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Rotary Club greets new Jefferson City teachers

by Anna Campbell | August 10, 2022 at 3:59 a.m.
Michelle Miller, near, Halee Wright, right, Lynn Cannon, middle background left, and Tyler Payne, background right, listen with interest Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, as featured speaker Todd Beaulieu delivers a humorous speech at the annual new teacher luncheon at Capital City High School in Jefferson City. Miller will teach 4th grade at Cedar Hill Elementary, Wright is an ELL for multiple schools, Cannon is a Jefferson City Rotary Club member, the group which sponsored the luncheon, and Payne will be an instructor at Jefferson City Academic Center. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)

The Rotary Club of Jefferson City welcomed new teachers Tuesday with a luncheon at the Capital City High School cafeteria in an effort to show new educators the community supports them.

The catered event offered local speakers, including Mayor Carrie Tergin, Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven and Todd Beaulieu, Jefferson City School District's teacher of the year.

The room was filled with many black and gray shirts bearing the phrase "Team JC" for the new teachers in the Jefferson City School District, along with teachers from Helias Catholic High School, St. Peter Interparish School, Immaculate Conception Catholic School and St. Joseph Cathedral Catholic School.

Tergin said she loved the shirts.

"I want you to know that Rotary is part of your team," she told teachers.

The event is designed to show teachers Jefferson City has their back.

Rotary president Rebecca Gordon said, "We really want them to feel that they have community support. It's one thing to come into a new position, and you're coming into, of course, a community of teachers, but we want them to know -- outside of education -- that the community of Jefferson City supports them."

Gordon said Rotary supports teachers by highlighting students of the month, showcasing teacher successes and helping with exchange programs throughout the year.

Mercedes Walton, a new teacher in the special education department at Jefferson City High School, said she's seen support from her district as well.

"They're passionate people, and if you're a passionate person, it makes it all super easy," she said.

Walton had been through a day and a half of orientation and training as a new teacher, and said it helped her know where she can go for support with different things.

"There's a lot of newness in the district, and so I know sometimes that 'new' is intimidating to people, but 'new' brings great ideas. And so (I'm) just looking forward to the bright direction the district is going in," she said.

To encourage teachers, JC Schools Superintendent Bryan McGraw shared the qualities of a successful teacher according to three grade levels of students: kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade.

A kindergartener said teachers should "love me, smile, be nice, hold my hand" and "help me learn."

A sixth-grader said teachers should be kind, hard workers, patient, willing to teach, organized and have discipline in the class.

A ninth-grader said teachers should be organized, adaptable, a good communicator, disciplined and professional, enthusiastic, and able to challenge students.

McGraw said all of these qualities make a good teacher. He also urged teachers not to be afraid to make mistakes.

Beaulieu shared three tips for success.

He told teachers to "Do you" by filling and arranging their classrooms with things that express their personality. These have the dual purpose of making the teacher feel more at home while also being a way to open up conversations with students.

He also told teachers to be prepared, illustrating his point with a story about how he and his classroom had conspired to make a great impression on his superintendent during his first year by executing a flawless lesson in front of him. The story -- often punctuated by laughter -- illustrated the power of preparation.

Finally, he told teachers to "just do it." Teachers should recognize they will have successes and failures, but it is important to keep in mind they will get through it, he said.

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