With approximately 3,000 students currently attending Chantilly, one can get lost in the sea of new faces. This year, the school warmly welcomed over 50 new staff members ranging from counselors, special education teachers and general education teachers, who were all invited to a staff orientation led by social studies teacher Angie Rollet. The event included breakfast, lunch, informative slideshows, a tour led by students and several staff bonding exercises. These exercises included sharing stories from past teaching experiences. The new staff members come from several different areas and backgrounds, bringing a fresh perspective to the school.
“My first year out, I worked in Virginia Beach and was a school counselor. I wanted to come back to the area because I didn’t like being below sea level, and I’m not a beach person,” Subschool 4 counselor Dwayne Peyton said. “I loved working at the school and loved my students, but it wasn’t the right area for me. I’ll also be closer to my friends here.”
The opportunity to start over at a new school led many to reflect on their previous teaching experiences and why they chose education as their career.
“In Baltimore City, I saw how some of the students were being treated and I wanted to come in and make a difference,” learning disabilities teacher Jocelyn Ohene-Stephens said. “I didn’t like how some of the kids were being spoken to and told that they couldn’t do certain things. I just wanted to come in and be a teacher that says, ‘Even though you have these problems or issues, you can still achieve.’”
Some teachers have mottos they live by that enhance their teaching, bringing positive affirmations to Chantilly this school year.
“Seeing students who didn’t believe they could do something and thought they were stupid figure out that they can do it is awesome,” learning disabilities teacher Sarah Sweetman said. “I told students that my favorite word is ‘yet’ because it can change ‘I can’t read’ to ‘I can’t read yet.’”
Inspired by a student, Sweetman even got the word tattooed on her arm to remind herself and her students to shift their thinking and recognize their potential.
The endless opportunities that come hand in hand with entering a brand new environment leave new staff members with an exciting and refreshing outlook on the year ahead.
“Chantilly is a very beautiful and welcoming place. I’ll be working in the Academy; it sounds like it has a lot to offer and I’m excited,” counselor Hollie Byer said. “I’m hoping to meet a lot of new people, build connections and work with a lot of students.”