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New students fuel largest influx of new Longview ISD teachers

By Melissa Greene
Aug. 15, 2013 at 10 p.m.

A record number of transfer students has contributed to what some Longview ISD officials believe is the largest-ever group of new teachers to go through orientation this week at Hudson Pep Elementary.

While some of the 118 new hires will fill the shoes of retirees or those who left the district for personal reasons, the majority will teach additional classes created to accommodate 439 out-of-district students approved so far this fall.

The district accepts transfer applications throughout the year so those numbers will increase, said school district spokesman Adam Holland.

District officials reported 364 students approved for transfer at this same time last year, with a record 8,843 enrollment for the 2012-13 school year.

"We are growing, and with more students you need more instructors," Holland said.

Paperwork for three more new teachers rested on the desk of LISD Human Resources Director Loretta Thompson Martin Wednesday afternoon.

"We've added quite a few positions this year. I can't think of any campus where there's not at least one new teaching position," she said.

Forest Park Magnet, Foster Middle and Hudson Pep each added two new teachers, at least two were added at Longview High School and at least one was added at Judson Middle School, Thompson Martin said.

Hudson Pep Elementary Principal Sue Wilson said four new teachers will be at her school.

Meanwhile, the new classroom leaders were gathered for a third day of training on Wednesday in - and outside of - the music room at Hudson Pep Elementary.

"My first thought was 'Gosh, that's a lot of people,' " said first-time teacher Monique Fowler, who listened in on the lesson from a chair in the hallway.

The recent Stephen F. Austin graduate said she is excited to be teaching first grade this fall in her crayon-themed classroom at Ned E. Williams Elementary.

"Monday was really entertaining and helpful, it was all about staying centered and not letting outside things drive you up or bring you down," she said. "I think that's going to be really helpful to me now, as well as in the future."

Nearby, Jason Lopez was listening from his small seat in the doorway.

Lopez, who left Henderson ISD for a position with the Longview district, said he is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of fifth-grade math students at South Ward Elementary.

In 2012, 23 percent of Texas teachers were male, according to Texas Education Agency data. Lopez said students need more male role models.

"Both male and female students need more positive male role models ... someone that they can follow and learn from and get help from to make better choices," said Lopez, who served in the U.S. Army for eight years and now owns a gymnastics studio in Kilgore.

Lopez, Fowler and their counterparts spent time between sessions visiting with vendors at booths in Hudson Pep's tiled hallways that offered information on everything from health services to credit unions.

According to TEA data, about 10.5 percent of those new teachers won't remain in their new jobs.

Longview's human resources director said there are many reasons why teachers left the district this past year, from choosing to stay at home with children to relocation to retirements.

"Some decided that teaching was not the profession they thought that they wanted to pursue, and so when we find those we wish them well, because we want to have only the teachers in the classroom who can make the biggest difference with their students," Thompson Martin said.



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