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Gwinnett teacher orientation welcomes more than 800 educators | VIDEO | PHOTOS

More than 800 teachers who are beginning their career or are new to Gwinnett County Public Schools met at the Gwinnett Center on Tuesday morning for an orientation event to be inspired and better acquainted with the school district.


New teachers in the Gwinnett County Public School district roam through the corridor of the Gwinnett Center during the new teacher orientation event, held on Tuesday in Duluth. (Staff Photos: David Welker)

New teachers in the Gwinnett County Public School district roam through the corridor of the Gwinnett Center during the new teacher orientation event, held on Tuesday in Duluth. (Staff Photos: David Welker)

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New teacher orientation

More than 800 teachers who are beginning their career or are new to Gwinnett County Public Schools met at the Gwinnett Center on Tuesday morning for an orientation event to be inspired and better acquainted with the school district.

More than 800 teachers who are beginning their career or are new to Gwinnett County Public Schools met at the Gwinnett Center on Tuesday morning for an orientation event to be inspired and better acquainted with the school district.

DULUTH — Celeste Strohl has worked in education long enough to know the back-to-school feeling, first as a teacher and then as a central office employee.

Yet this summer, Strohl is getting re-certified in Reading Recovery 20 years after she was in the first class offered in Gwinnett. While she retired from Gwinnett County Public Schools’ federal and special programs department, she never left education.

For the last four years, Strohl has tutored students at Stripling Elementary in Norcross. But to start this school year, she will work part-time as a Reading Recovery teacher at Stripling as the district added about 40 of those positions in its latest budget.

“I have never been so excited and so energized about the opportunity to work with children again,” Strohl said. “It’s just having a chance to make a difference in children’s lives. Having worked as a teacher and in the central office, I know that the most important interaction in Gwinnett County goes on in the classroom between the teacher and the child.”

That feeling played out on the stage and in several ballrooms at the Gwinnett Center on Tuesday as more than 800 teachers began their career or their first year in Gwinnett at the annual orientation event. The district has hired 847 new teachers and re-hired 424 teachers who started after the first day of school last year. It also re-hired 84 retirees, and counts 38 teaching vacancies remaining, district spokesman Jorge Quintana said.

Those people came from a pool of 16,655 active applicants for teaching positions in the system.

The event returned to the Gwinnett Center after it was held at Peachtree Ridge High the last two years with fewer new teachers. There were 750 brand-new teachers last year, and 200 in 2012.

One teacher who started in December is Bernard Taylor, who teaches chemistry at Mill Creek High and previously worked as a pharmacy technician. Taylor said he introduces to his students how research goes into making drugs and how biology, chemistry and biochemistry and connect those fields to a job as a pharmacy technician.

“Pharmacy is very big in the medical field now,” Taylor said. “Pharmacists are in demand.”

Taylor also said he’s felt the back-to-school excitement.

“Coming to this today, I’m getting more excited,” he said. “I’m ready to meet my new students, I’m ready to get collaborating with colleagues and other teachers to see what new ideas they’ve learned over the summer and how we can share them and make this upcoming year be more successful.”

The teachers heard words of encouragement and inspiration from several district leaders and Gwinnett Chamber President Dan Kaufman.

“We’re not just educating the workforce, we’re educating your replacements,” Kaufman said. “I hope a lot more will be sitting where you’re sitting in the years ahead. You are the architects of the future for this country, in addition to this state and this county.”

Gwinnett School Board Chairman Dan Seckinger said what teachers do in a classroom “eyeball to eyeball” makes a difference in a kid’s life. CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks added that teachers must foster what a student wants to do with their life because it’s absolutely important.

“Challenge students to be all they can be in whatever profession they choose,” he said.

The crowd offered a hearty response, and several later shook the hand of 2014 Central Gwinnett graduate Christopher Brock, who read a poem entitled “Success.” Brock, who plans to attend Georgia Southern University, listed several well-known world leaders, presidents, athletes and inventors, and then named several local leaders, from Wilbanks to School Board members.

“That’s us,” he said. “That’s success.”