Gwinnett welcomes, seeks to inspire 1,500 new teachers

Educators attend Gwinnett County Public Schools’ annual new teacher orientation at Gas South Convention Center on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.  (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

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Educators attend Gwinnett County Public Schools’ annual new teacher orientation at Gas South Convention Center on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

More than 10% of district teachers were hired within the last year

Gwinnett County school officials held the district’s new teacher orientation this week in Duluth, gathering about 1,500 teachers who were newly hired or hired during last school year.

The teachers are a mix of career changers, recent graduates and teachers who came from other districts. Gwinnett, the state’s largest school district, employs about 12,500 teachers.

The orientation’s first day was short on the bureaucratic procedure that comes with starting a new job. Instead, various speakers sought to inspire the new teachers amid a challenging time for the profession.

Jamie Garcia Caycho, Gwinnett’s districtwide teacher of the year, acknowledged that teaching is a difficult job with fewer people pursuing the profession.

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Jamie Garcia Caycho is Gwinnett County Public Schools' 2022 teacher of the year. She teaches first grade at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

Credit: Gwinnett County Public Schools

Jamie Garcia Caycho is Gwinnett County Public Schools' 2022 teacher of the year. She teaches first grade at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

Credit: Gwinnett County Public Schools

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Jamie Garcia Caycho is Gwinnett County Public Schools' 2022 teacher of the year. She teaches first grade at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

Credit: Gwinnett County Public Schools

Credit: Gwinnett County Public Schools

“That is a reality,” she said. “Here’s another reality: Teaching is a fulfilling and important job with the unique privilege and responsibility to inspire, educate and shape the younger generation. It’s also really fun.”

Garcia Caycho, a first grade teacher at Arcado Elementary, relayed her experience moving from Mexico to the United States as a child with her family and enrolling in school before learning English.

“Although things were new and scary at first, with time I felt safe inside of school thanks to my second grade teacher,” she said. “Despite the language barrier, she made a conscious effort to connect with me and my family to give us a positive school experience.”

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While speakers sought to inspire, there were brief mentions of the issues facing schools and teachers: the national teacher shortage, the pandemic, and the focus placed on critical race theory, which Gwinnett has emphatically said is not in its curriculum.

After the event, several teachers said they were aware of those outside pressures, but they were not deterred. They spoke of an excitement for working with kids and helping them reach their goals.

Daniel Garcia, who will teach seventh grade social studies at Shiloh Middle School, said, “It’s really important that you find your reason why you’re doing this.”

Garcia said he was drawn to working in schools because he’s interested in public service. Originally from Idaho, he earned his teaching certifications while working as a paraprofessional.

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Daniel Garcia attends Gwinnett County Public Schools’ annual new teacher orientation at Gas South Convention Center on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. He will be teaching social studies at Shiloh Middle School. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Daniel Garcia attends Gwinnett County Public Schools’ annual new teacher orientation at Gas South Convention Center on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. He will be teaching social studies at Shiloh Middle School.  (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
Daniel Garcia attends Gwinnett County Public Schools’ annual new teacher orientation at Gas South Convention Center on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. He will be teaching social studies at Shiloh Middle School. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

As he transitions to teaching, he’s hoping to be impactful in the lives of students.

“These kids are the leaders of today,” Garcia said. “Sometimes we think of them as the leaders of tomorrow, but it’s important to inspire them today because they are leading now.”