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Shawnee Mission School District gives new teachers a warm welcome ahead of unpredictable school year

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Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 15:28:24-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A first day could never have been better for many new teachers with the Shawnee Mission School District.

Jordyn Burke is a first year kindergarten teacher at Corinth Elementary School. She said that despite nerves and the pandemic, she'll try to give students what they need.

“I feel like it’s easy to say there are a lot of nerves going into it because it’s my first year teaching," Burke said. "I think overall I’m just excited to meet my students, and they are going to be my biggest priority, so whatever they need I’m going to give it to them pandemic or not, it shouldn’t change much."

Burke is heading into the school year ready for the challenges that the pandemic brought on. So is Heather Brown, a third grade teacher at Lenexa Hills.

“Because so many students have already experienced wearing masks, I don’t think the masks will be a big issue. I think the masks will make a lot of people feel more comfortable actually," Brown said. "The only challenges I see are that learning loss like you said that may have occurred during virtual learning and then of course summertime."

However, the district has a game plan to tackle those challenges, according to David Smith, the chief communications officer at Shawnee Mission School District.

“There are so many things, obviously classroom management is very important, but we talk about in Shawnee Mission about personalized learning and it’s about getting to know each and every child,” Smith said.

Right now, the main goal for both the district and the teachers is to ensure that every student receives the best education possible.

“I think it’s why we know we can be successful because we know if we pay attention to every kid, in making sure they get what they need, then in the end they will be successful,” Smith said.

For Burke, that means paying attention to safety.

"If they don’t feel comfortable they’re not going to be able to learn, so making sure we have our masks on comfortably and making sure we are staying safe and following the rules and directions — that’s [what] we need to,” Burke said.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the first name of David Smith, Shawnee Mission School District's chief communications officer. It has since been corrected.