In a room filled with smiling, eager educators, Killeen Independent School District inducted its newest crop of teachers Monday, two weeks before the start of the new school year.

Killlen ISD welcomed about 245 new first-year teachers among 400-plus teachers new to the district, said newly anointed Interim Superintendent John Craft, before walking the audience through the history of Killeen and its schools.

Craft discussed Killeen ISD’s strengths over the years, highlighting its diversity and fiscal responsibility.

The 2014-2015 school year will see 42,354 students attending 52 district schools. The district employs 6,050 people. The student body is 33.6 percent African-American and 28.1 percent Hispanic.

With a budget of more than $337 million, “67 cents for every dollar is spent on instructional support,” Craft said.

If numbers in the proposed budget hold true, Killeen ISD will spend around $8,100 per student in the 2014-2015 school year. That’s about $200 more than it spent last year and $500 more than it spent in the 2012-2013 school year.

Jo-Lynette Crayton and Sharon Davis, executive directors for elementary leadership, along with Robin Champagne, executive director for secondary leadership, recognized key staff members and provided words of encouragement before leading the newest employees through the first day of professional development.

The week of induction is designed to increase success as the teachers begin their path with Killeen ISD, Crayton said.

“We believe magic happens in the classroom,” she said. “The power of the collective is that it enables ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.”

Emphasizing this model of teamwork, Crayton explained Killeen ISD’s four-tiered approach to teaching: connectedness, communication, collaboration and curriculum.

“Our district has a lot to offer teachers … it’s going to be a great school year,” said Assistant Superintendent Diana Miller.

Guest speaker Cherry Gooden, retired associate professor from Texas Southern University, gave a rousing address on helping children find their purpose.

“People have a song … that is inherent within them from the very beginning,” Gooden said. “Help (your students) understand you are purposed — you have a destiny and you are not a mistake of this world.”

Gooden stressed that each teacher must first know his or her own purpose before embarking on teaching others. She highlighted the difference between a job and one’s work, which one is called to do.

The district’s elementary and secondary teachers of the year, Tammy Thornhill of Clifton Park Elementary and John Maxwell IV of Manor Middle School, became teary-eyed as they shared their personal pathways to the field of education. Thornhill compared teaching to flying an airplane while still trying to build it, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“That applies to all teachers, brand new or veteran,” she said. “(But) every school year is a new opportunity to touch a life and start again.”

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