July 23, 2018
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
More than 150 new Rutherford County teachers with less than four years of experience participated in the annual ASSIST conference held at Siegel Middle School.
Newly selected Director of Schools Bill Spurlock addressed the group Monday morning.
He ended his speech by reinforcing the importance of choosing to become educators: “You are the ones who will change the lives of young people.”
Barbara Powers, middle school coordinator for Rutherford County, built on Spurlock’s speech by adding, “Children are wonderful and they need us.”
She admitted it’s a “challenging profession” and that others will try to talk them out of teaching, “but obviously you have a passion for it, so don’t let them steal that passion. Don’t let them steal that joy.”
Ann Haley, who was previously the principal at John Colemon Elementary before taking on the role of elementary coordinator, encouraged everyone to take a quiet moment to write down their “why.”
Why do you want to teach?
What’s your purpose?
More importantly, Haley told them to keep their answer close by and to read it often. After 29 years in education, Haley said she still has her own doubts from time to time.
“I look at it to know why I’m doing this,” said Haley, before answering her own question, “I’m here for the kids. I’m here for nothing else but them.”
Secondary education coordinator Kay Martin added, “Let them know that you care. It’s so, so important.”
New teachers spent seven hours in groups learning about what to expect on the first day and how to manage their individual classrooms.
Later in the day, educational expert Kim Campbell, a history teacher in the Hopkins School District, in Hopkins, Minnesota, emphasized the most difficult task a teacher — both first-year and experienced — will face is managing their classroom.
Rutherford County Schools is one of the only districts in Tennessee that offers an ASSIST-like conference for new-hires.
ASSIST will be followed up on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Summer Conference in which more than 1,000 teachers will meet with experts to discuss best practices in education.
PHOTOS / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT