Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Twenty-six new Unified School District 207 licensed/certified staff received an overview of their new roles and available resources during two days of Professional Development and Orientation Aug. 3-4 at the district office.
“Training for new staff allows them time to embrace the vision and mission of the school district and to understand the unique community in which they will serve as educators,” said SuAnn Grant, deputy superintendent. “New staff also learn important academic resources and guiding documents that provide the foundation to support their work in our schools.
“Our new staff are fantastic,” she said. “They are enthusiastic professionals ready to provide a great education to students.”
During the two-day orientation, new teachers were briefed about the life of a military family, the “Leader in Me” and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” programs, district curriculum, individual training for general education, special education, counselors and more.
“Our hope for the new certified staff is that they engulf themselves in the professional learning opportunities within our district and the mission of our collaborative teams of teachers within each of their schools to deepen their skillsets as they continue their careers in education in order to provide the great educational opportunities for every student at USD 207,” Grant said.
The new certified staff included first-time teachers as well as experienced teachers familiar with the transient life of military families.
Rosa Buser, Patton special education resource teacher, is entering her 12th year teaching as her family settles at Fort Leavenworth while her husband Maj. Bryan Buser attends the Command and General Staff Officer Course.
“My husband is stationed here; my son will go to school here. It was the perfect mixture,” Buser said. “(Orientation) was a very helpful process. I really appreciated them walking us through different things as far as benefits go and just getting a better feel of the district.
“The thing that I’m most looking forward to is just seeing the growth and progress that these students will make,” she said. “I’m really confident in the staff that I’ve met, so I’m excited to work together and collaborate to see these kids make progress.”
Ashley Van Gieson, MacArthur Elementary School second-grade teacher, got a sense of the district when she completed her student teaching at Eisenhower Elementary School before graduating in December 2020 with a degree in elementary education from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth. Then she served as a substitute teacher for the district from January to May 2021.
“I really liked the way the district went out of their way to meet the needs for every single student they had. Being a (substitute teacher), I was able to see that at every single grade level from (pre-kindergarten) to sixth grade,” Van Gieson said. “This year, just because it’s such a life transition for me, I’m hoping I’m able to manage the real-life situation and really dig into my career because I want to be around kids, I want to help kids, I want to help them in life, so it’s really a first step into those doors.”
Although Van Gieson said she does not come from a military family, she thinks she can still relate to the students.
“I think because I went to college, I was able to see the being away from family for extended periods of time. I can relate, although not to the extent of being a military child,” Van Gieson said, having left her family in Hawaii to attend USM. “But I only see my family maybe twice a year, so I think that really helps me (understand.)
“Being in athletics, I can also see the hard work of juggling more than one thing at a time,” she said. “I think that really helps me see what the kids are going through or what their parents might be going through and how that has an effect on them.”
The USD 207 Know Your School event is Aug. 16 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Patton and 1-3:30 p.m. at the elementary schools. The new schoolyear begins Aug. 17.
For more information, visit usd207.org.