By Rebecca LaFlure
Killeen Daily Herald
The crowd was smaller than in recent years, but the enthusiasm was just as high at the Killeen Independent School District's new teacher induction ceremony Monday.
The event, held at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, was the beginning of a weeklong orientation for recent hires to become familiar with KISD's history, culture and objectives.
"There is no profession that is more important to the health of a community than education," Superintendent Robert Muller told a crowd of teachers Monday. "You can truly make a huge difference in your students' lives."
KISD officials welcomed 192 new teachers to the district this school year – less than half the number hired last summer. Administrators were forced to cut teaching positions due to a projected enrollment decline of about 1,240 students for the upcoming school year.
Steve Cook, executive director for personnel services, said KISD will continue to hire new teachers as positions become available throughout the year. KISD currently has 15 teacher vacancies.
"We generally hire about 600 people every year and 400 during the summer," Cook said Monday. "We'll have to see what the student enrollment is before we know exactly how many teachers we'll need."
During the ceremony, Muller outlined the district's top focus areas, including student achievement, community responsiveness, classroom support, leadership development and financial accountability.
The teachers then attended smaller information sessions about how to teach in a military community. An estimated half of all KISD students are from military families, and nine campuses are located at Fort Hood.
Teachers spent the rest of the day at their home campuses.
Throughout the remainder of the week, teachers will attend a series of educational seminars both together and at the Jackson Professional Learning Center.
The orientations will center largely on KISD's new, Internet-based curriculum management system, said Diana Miller, chief academic officer.
For the first time, teachers will have access to daily lesson plans mapped out for them online.
The program, called C-Scope, is used by more than 500 districts throughout the state, including Copperas Cove, Temple and Waco.
"It provides lesson plans for teachers to use as a resource to teach with, and tells brand-new teachers exactly what to do each day if that's the kind of support they need," she said.
Lasma Berrouet was one of KISD's many new additions at the ceremony Monday.
Berrouet, from Latvia in Eastern Europe, will teach and coach basketball at Live Oak Ridge Middle School this school year. The 24-year-old previously played professional basketball in Naples, Italy.
"I want to bring something from my culture and let the kids know about Europe," Berrouet said.
Sarah Cruddas also began her first day as a teacher on Monday. Cruddas, 24, will teach special education math at Harker Heights High School, the same school she graduated from.
Last year Cruddas was a substitute teacher in KISD, and spent most of her time at HHHS. "It's like family," she said.
Contact Rebecca LaFlure at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548.