This school year marks a new beginning for me in my professional career…the enormity in changing of districts. I spent my first twelve years in the same place, so each back to school season was one of comfort and familiarity. I knew faces, I knew places. I knew language, I knew priorities. I am lucky enough to have landed in a place that handles their newbies with understanding and grace. If you’ve got new team members, or new to your area students, think about integrating some of these pieces into your back to school routine. I wrote about our C&I retreat where our higher-ups went through a timeline of the district curriculum implementation. This was such a huge piece for me. Knowing the history of what had been tried and planned will be so helpful as we move forward. I now know the reason why we are things “this” way or why it isn’t happening “that” way. Your new people need a synopsis of where your campus been in addition to where its going. It will help solidify in what direction they should be moving. Another amazing detail about this district is the pride they take in the local community. I had lunch with the namesake of our campus, Wally Watkins. It was so humbling to sit and talk with a man who has contributed to so much to the area, that I was now working in the school they honored him with. He and his lovely wife Nita cemented my devotion to making them proud of what we do each day. For new teachers to our campus, there was a special breakfast. They were given a goodie bag, a campus tee-shirt & magnet, and an opportunity to meet with key members of our staff. Two of our veteran team members were there to talk them through what it means to be to a Watkins Wrangler. They shared the campus vision and the mission, as well as a glimpse into what it means to work here. One of our teacher leaders who opened the campus shared that before carpet was laid on the floor, the teachers were encouraged to come in and write what they wanted to see achieved on their cement classroom floor, or a scripture. Each room has a message written on the floor. Knowing that every room was so intentional in their student focus just warms my heart! How can you not walk through the halls and feel a connection to student success? They then took the new staff members on a tour of the school, showing them in the in’s and outs. New district members were invited to a luncheon, held on a high school campus where local vendors and businesses shared their services and gave away little goodies as a welcome. From calendars with local sports teams schedules to a Race Trac cup with a free coffee coupon, you saw the faces that made our lil’ community what it is. It gave new meaning to “shop locally”, after seeing the support they provide for the school district. how could you not want to shop local first? They also donated enough “goodies” that EVERY single new hire recieved a door prize. Mine? My word. Finally, the first day of our teacher in service, each teacher was given a tee shirt, a welcome note, and a cookie for each of their students. Our teachers then used Optimap to develop a round trip map and they went and visited each home for their homeroom. My principal and I drove the attendance zone and watched the expressions on those lil’Wranglers faces as they opened the door and met their teachers. The teachers and families absolutely loved it. This is the #WylieWay!
Whatever method you choose, take some time to make your new team members & make sure they know you’re glad they are there. The best way to get someone to buy in to your purpose is to make them feel like they are a part of the campus family. I am so blessed to have experienced such a welcome! Wrangler lasso’d, Amber PS: Feel free to follow our campus throughout the year, you can like the Wally Watkins Elementary School Facebook page or on twitter, @WatkinsElem! (why yes, social media and communication IS encouraged!)