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Area schools losing hundreds of years of teaching experience


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Edinburgh Community High School teacher Deborah Hightshue helps students during their final test on Thursday. Hightshue  is retiring after 41 years in the classroom. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Edinburgh Community High School teacher Deborah Hightshue helps students during their final test on Thursday. Hightshue is retiring after 41 years in the classroom. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Edinburgh Community High School teacher Deborah Hightshue helps students during their final test on Thursday. Hightshue  is retiring after 41 years in the classroom. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Edinburgh Community High School teacher Deborah Hightshue helps students during their final test on Thursday. Hightshue is retiring after 41 years in the classroom. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Edinburgh Community High School teacher Deborah Hightshue  is retiring after 41 years in the classroom. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Edinburgh Community High School teacher Deborah Hightshue is retiring after 41 years in the classroom. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal


When nearly a dozen teachers at Greenwood schools announced they were retiring earlier this year, school officials immediately started looking for replacements.

Some of the teachers leaving Greenwood have 30 to 40 years of experience preparing lessons and assignments. They’ve learned how to spot the look on students’ faces when they don’t understand what’s going on; and the teachers know what to do to help.

Superintendent Kent DeKoninck knew most, though not all, of the positions would need to be filled, and he wanted to be sure that the most skilled teachers graduating from college or looking to transfer from other school districts applied and were interviewed for the openings. So Greenwood started posting information about the openings about two months ago, and now the school district is interviewing candidates and preparing to make job offers, he said.

Nearly 50 teachers and administrators are set to retire at the end of the school year from Johnson County’s six public school districts, and those educators take 1,559 years of experience with them. Center Grove has 15 people with a total of 539 years of experience retiring; Edinburgh has one teacher, with 41 years of experience, retiring.

New teachers typically feel reasonably confident about their ability to work with and teach students after their third year in the classroom, DeKoninck said. And at Greenwood and Clark-Pleasant schools, first-year teachers and those who transfer from other school districts work regularly with administrators and colleagues so they can quickly learn about their new school and the teaching methods that are considered the most effective, DeKoninck and Clark-Pleasant director of curriculum and instruction Cameron Rains said.

“It’s not so much about individual great people as much as it is the collective effort of the collaborative team,” Rains said.

Typically before school districts hire new employees to replace teachers, guidance counselors and principals who resign or retire, school officials review whether the existing staff can manage without them. The number of students at both Franklin and Greenwood schools has been falling over the past five years, and school districts receive money from the state that pays for employee salaries and benefits based on the number of students who attend their schools.

At Greenwood, DeKoninck will wait until this summer to fill openings at the elementary schools, since the number of younger students typically fluctuates until the start of the school year. But he expects to hire about 10 teachers at Greenwood Community High School.

The new teachers who will start this fall will go through orientation this summer and will meet regularly with their principals and other teachers throughout the school year.

Teachers who are just out of college and those who have worked at other districts will learn what kinds of assignments, lessons and teaching styles the other teachers at their buildings use. That’s essential, as school officials want teachers using similar styles so that students know what they can expect in different classes and in different grades, Rains and DeKoninck said.

New teachers also will check in regularly with veteran teachers and administrators to review how well they’re managing their classrooms. College students typically review different methods they can use during the school day to make sure students are paying attention in class, but they won’t know how well they actually work until they have a chance to practice the methods themselves, Rains said.

“You can’t replicate it without actually doing it,” he said.

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