In order to provide support for a successful start to the school year, 200 new DeSoto County School District (DCS) teachers attended a New Teacher Orientation (NTO) program July 30 at Southaven High School.
This program was specifically designed to be an introduction to the state's largest public school district.
When teachers arrived, they were greeted by their respective school administrators. There were booths for the eight attendance areas, and principals and assistant principals were on hand to welcome the new teachers and answer questions.
DCS Supt. Cory Uselton spoke to the new group of educators and started their professional development session. He shared some of the district’s recent accomplishments--$97 million in scholarship offers to seniors, 18 National Merit Finalists, 148 Seniors scored 30 or above on the ACT examinations (five high school students scored a perfect 36), and MHSAA state championships in football, baseball, softball, girls basketball, boys basketball, soccer, dance, cheer, and band.
“We have a great group of new teachers and an excellent group of existing teachers who will mentor and share what they know,” Uselton said. “I have high expectations for the coming school year. You will bring a new energy, new excitement to our schools. It takes all of us.”
Elizabeth Richardson, a second grade teacher and a former DeSoto County Schools Teacher of the Year, challenged teachers to ponder and proceed with action as they develop their purpose, passion, people skills, prayer and planning to work toward “greatness and nothing less.”
“Today I will spread love; today I will do more,” is a simple phrase that Richardson said can transform the heart of a teacher. She encouraged the new teachers to meditate on this thought every day.
The keynote speaker for the event was Chelonnda Seroyer, an educational consultant and international presenter who speaks around the world on the subjects of classroom management and effective teaching. She often shares the stage with Dr. Harry Wong and Dr. Rosemary Wong and is one of the featured teachers in Dr. Harry Wong’s online classroom management course, as well as on the DVD accompanying the latest edition of Dr. Wong’s bestselling The First Days of School. Seroyer is a contributing author of the Wongs’ new release, THE Classroom Management Book.
All new teachers received a copy of the "First Days of School."
Sheng Bergeron, a new third grade teacher at Lewisburg Elementary School, moved to Mississippi from Massachusetts. Her husband was transferred to the area to work in the plastics industry.
“We heard how DeSoto County Schools had many of the top schools in the state, and we wanted our children to be a part of this school system,” Bergeron said. “We had a great school system in Massachusetts, and we wanted to continue their education with a top school district.”
“Rebecca Blake will teach English at Horn Lake Middle School,” said HLM Principal Nick Toungett. “We are excited about adding her to our teaching team. She is a recent graduate of Mississippi State with an outstanding resume. Her husband is starting law school in Memphis, but they chose to live here.”
Kelsey Wilson will be a speech pathologist at Lake Cormorant Elementary School. A graduate of the University of Mississippi and Jackson State University, she worked for Madison County Schools for five years.
"I wanted to come home. I am a graduate of Southaven High School. I knew DCS had a great reputation,” Wilson said. “I heard DeSoto County Schools was one of the top educational systems in the state and I am excited about the opportunity to work here.”
Gwen Petty, formerly an assistant girls' basketball coach in Starkville, will be the new head girls basketball coach at DeSoto Central High School.
“I have a 14 year-old son and I wanted him to go to one of the best high schools in the state,” Petty said. “The DeSoto Central schools have a great academic reputation, and this was a wonderful opportunity for me to move up to a head coaching spot.”
DeSoto Central is also getting a new head boys' basketball coach. Blake Ormon is in his eighth year of teaching. Ormon is the former head coach at Independence High School.
“We already lived in Olive Branch, so I am excited to be close to home,” Ormon said.
DeSoto County School District actively recruits teachers at area colleges and held a Teacher Career Fair this spring that resulted in many of the new hires. SouthGroup Insurance sponsored a breakfast for the new teachers, and BancorpSouth hosted a luncheon. After the professional development sessions, the teachers went to their schools to meet with their principals.
Katherine Nelson is Communications Director for DeSoto County Schools.