COLUMBIA- Teachers, rather than students, are filling Columbia classrooms this week.
Orientation for the 204 new teachers who will join the Columbia Public School District’s faculty this year began Monday at Gentry Middle School.
The orientation familiarizes new teachers with the district and the schools in which they will be teaching.
“Being a new teacher is overwhelming,” said Leslie Trogdon, director of school improvement.
One of the orientation’s objectives is to make the teachers feel supported and teach them where to go for resources.
This year’s new employees include elementary and high school teachers, as
well as special educators. Some are experienced teachers, while the remainder are new to working in education.
The Columbia Public School District employs about 1,400 teachers and usually recruits between 150 to 200 faculty members each year. The new teachers will be assigned to 29 different public schools.
“Every school has at least one opening,” Trogdon said.
Competition for the new positions is high. Only one out of every six applicants were approved, Trogdon said.
Gabe Bodzin, 33, is one of the new hires. He expects to work in one of three elementary schools as a counselor for medical and mental health.
Bodzin received a master’s degree in social work and has worked for homeless services in Chicago.
He is a new resident in Columbia as well as a newcomer to working in education and found the orientation helpful. Bodzin said he is excited, honored and proud to work as a teacher in Columbia because the schools have high standards.
“I cannot think of a better institution to be involved with,” he said.
As a father of two children, Bodzin believes he will send his children to one of Columbia’s public schools when they grow up.
“Back in Chicago, where I’m from, the public school system has some problems. Many people prefer other kinds, like private schools. It is a real concern for parents. But in Columbia, there’s no similar concerns.”