They arrived to marching band music and cheers.
It was signing day.
Not the one where star high school athletes whip out a baseball cap to announce which college they’ll attend before family and friends. This signing day, held Monday evening, was for about 60 educators who will teach this fall at Ivy Preparatory Academies, a charter school for girls with campuses in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
“I was so overjoyed and excited,” said Paige Crumbie, who's leaving the Atlanta Public Schools system after four years as a teacher to work at Ivy Prep this fall.
Ivy Prep officials believe no one else in Georgia has such a ceremony for professional educators. The state’s Education Department is planning a signing day event next week for high schools planning a teaching career.
Ivy Prep administrators say they got the idea from watching the ceremonies with athletes and from former First Lady Michelle Obama, who encouraged others to hold an annual signing day for all students planning to attend college.
Ivy Prep Superintendent Alisha T. Morgan said she felt it was important to celebrate teachers similarly.
“Teachers don’t get the type of love and appreciation that they should,” she said. “We feel honored that we have teachers who want to sign up for Ivy Prep.”
The starting salary for a non-certified teacher at Ivy Prep is about $38,000 a year, Morgan said, slightly lower than most metro Atlanta school districts.
When Morgan became superintendent in 2015, she decided not to renew most of the teacher contracts. Morgan instituted a more rigorous teacher selection process that included prospective educators teaching an Ivy Prep class and being critiqued by students and administrators. Eighty percent of teachers hired last year will return next year, she said.
Ivy Prep now offers its teachers $500 stipends that can be used to purchase books, for training or certification. They try other ways to keep teachers engaged.
Morgan called Monday’s event a success and said she plans to do it next year.
“It was as much fun as we’ve ever had,” she said.
In other Education news: