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New Teachers Honored with Breakfast, Prizes and Words of Wisdom (August, 2006)

New TeachersMore than 500 new teachers were the honored guests at the annual Frisco Chamber of Commerce’s New Teacher’s Breakfast at the new Wakeland High School Monday.

Frisco Independent School District Superintendent Rick Reedy estimated those new hires account for a little less than a third of the teaching staff.
“We know you’re good or you wouldn’t have been hired,” Reedy said to the assembled new teachers, noting that the new teachers will need to hit the ground quickly in this fast-paced, fast-growing Frisco Independent School district. Hitting the ground running seemed to be a theme as FISD Board member Brenda Polk asked the crowd if they had their sneakers ready and Rene Ehmke confessed she is counting down the days until her kids go back to school.

Many of the new teachers are not really “new” faces to Frisco. Frisco graduates are looking at their old school district as a potential career choice, many noting that in spite of the growth and change they still consider FISD home. More than a dozen graduates will begin their teaching careers or paraprofessional career with FISD this year.

Courtney Norris Leatherwood will begin teaching 1st grade at Sparks. She says returning to teach at Frisco has been a fabulous experience. “It can get a little strange when you see people who were your authority figures and now they are your peers. However, anyway you look at it, strange or fabulous, it feels like home.”

New teacher Ashley Burns echoes that sentiment. She went to school in Frisco from kindergarten through 12th grade and says she is honored to be a FISD employee. “Although Frisco has grown immensely since I walked through the doors of Z.T. Acker Elementary in 1988, the school district has maintained the same small town feeling. I recently had lunch with my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Quigley (now employed at city hall). Little things like that demonstrate just how amazing our school district and teachers really are.”

Jason Weir will begin teaching physical education at Ogle Elementary. He says that he has run into several former teachers who are “shocked to know that I’m already out of college and joining them as a co-worker.” He added that it is a bit awkward to realize he is now an equal of some of his former teachers. “It’s especially hard to get on a first name basis with them after having them as your superior.”

Alta Davis, who has spent 25 years teaching in FISD, knows that odd feeling. When she was offered a teaching position at Acker Elementary 25 years ago, she began her career in the same building she had attended elementary school and her classroom was her old 6th grade room. “Bert Isbell, who had been my elementary principal, offered me the opportunity to begin my career in FISD. There was total trust on his part. He said, “Alta, do what you know how to do – you’ll be just fine!” Davis says that she was surrounded by the very best people, seasoned teachers who offered guidance and laughter as she learned her profession. “Jo Harrington, a long time family friend and my first grade teacher, was there to answer my many questions and give support. I am most positive she questioned Mr. Isbell’s decision to hire me!” Davis also gives credit to retired FISD teacher Linda VanBebber for spending countless hours “trying to mold me into a teacher!” To today’s new teachers dealing with their first students, Davis sends these words of wisdom: “Show them respect.” and “Capture their hearts.”

Some former students who are now teachers, many of whom knew Mrs. Davis in elementary school, who will be taking those words to heart include:

Alisha Bledsoe Sandifer joins her dad, Max, her uncle, Kip, and her aunt, Carla, as an FISD employee. She began teaching for FISD in December at Boals along with some familiar friends such as Allison Claunch who began teaching there last year.

Allison Haley, daughter of former FISD teacher Diane Haley, also begins teaching this year at Corbell.

Jamie Hambrick, daughter of Communications Department Secretary Theresa Hambrick, will teach at Ogle. She was one of several new teachers recognized as the breakfast as recipients of Frisco Education Foundation scholarships who have now returned to work in the district.

Jamie Hernandez, daughter of former FISD Board of Trustees president Richard Scoggins, will be a speech therapist for FISD and her younger sister Cassie Tornedon will begin work as a special education aide. In addition to the folks who return to join the professional team, many former Frisco students join the FISD team in paraprofessional positions every year.

Kelly Richmond, daughter of experienced FISD administrator Alicia Richmond, will begin teaching 2nd grade at Bright Elementary. She is amazed at the growth that happened just during the years she was away at college but says she is looking forward to the encouraging and supportive environment FISD offers.

“Frisco continues to hire many wonderful professionals from around the country to serve our students but we also want our graduates who choose education as a career to know that we honor their hard work and their desire to give back to their community,” noted Reedy.

Other Frisco graduates who have joined the FISD team include Annie Johnson, Kim Cummings, Jana Edwards, Jennifer McCord, Amy Jo Calloway, Jordan Miles, Tara Balough, Kimberly Meyers, Brittney Kildebeck and Sara Meek.