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Mamaroneck Welcomes 60 New Teachers and Staff

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Shelly Vestao is one of 60 new teachers and staff in the Mamaroneck School District who met Wednesday for a one-day orientation, which originally included days for second and third-year staff, but was scaled back due to Hurricane Irene.

Vestao, who will teach kindergarten through fifth-grade art at Chatsworth Avenue School, has been able to spend several days this summer preparing her new classroom for her students.Conversely, Johanna Rosenberg will have just one day to prep her new first-grade classroom at Central School, which has been closed all summer and continues renovations before the first day of school Sept. 7.

Chatsworth Assistant Principal Katie Anderson is hoping that the roof work at her school finishes in time for the start of school.

"When the kids come in, it's important they have structure," the enthusiastic Syracuse native said. "I've got a mind map going of where everything will go. It's all on paper too."Rosenberg has a class of 18, compared to her past classes of 28 or 29-students in New York City's China Town. "I'm looking forward to working more one-on-one with kids," she said.

Before teachers start dishing out the lesson plans to weary-eyed students, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Annie Ward had a few activities planned for them.

After a pre-orientation breakfast at 8 a.m. outside the high school library, Ward and collegues engaged the new hires in excercises designed to "find out a bit about these new teachers and what experiences and interests and knowledge base they bring with them to the district," Ward said. This included a free-writing excercise to elicit those experiences, interests and base of knowledge.

Teachers whose new schools were accessible spent the afternoon getting to know their adminstrators, their classrooms and began to "get their feet on the ground in the building," Ward said.

"Any time new teachers come into a new district, it's important to offer them support," said Elizabeth Clain, Mamaroneck High School's first-year principal, who previously taught history.Vestao previously taught art in New Rochelle until they cut their program last year.

"I taught there for two years, then they had cuts and I was the last name on the list," the Ossining resident said.

Both Sandra Sanco and Vanessa Green-Davis have also found a new home in Mamaroneck after cuts in the Yonkers School system left them scouring the job market.

"I'm surprised," said Green-Davis, who will be a school psychologist at Chatsworth Avenue School. "It really shows the dedication of the Board of Education to bring in new and experienced people, especially during a time when people aren't hiring."

After this large class of new hires, the Mamaroneck School District has over 100 first, second and third-year staff combined.

"We had a significant number of retirements last year, and much of the hiring we've done is to fill positions vacated by retirees," Ward said. "So many districts are scaling back, including our own, in different ways. So, it's unusual, but it's not an all-time high."

Thursday, all district staff will report to their schools for superintendent's conference day starting at 8 a.m. Central school staff will meet at the high school due to the construction.

The first full day of classes is Sept. 8. All elementary schools, as well as sixth and ninth graders will begin Sept. 7.

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