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Beginning Teacher Institute Focuses on Building Connections

The value of connections was at the heart of the 2022 Beginning Teacher Institute (BTI), a two-day new teacher orientation event hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) each year and held this year at Lightridge High School.

“Our theme this year was about building relationships with students, faculty members, parents and the community. We know that new teachers are retained when they feel part of a community. That’s what we try to get across to them at BTI. We try to help them build those relationships,” said Julie Baye, supervisor of mentoring and coaching in LCPS’ Department of Instruction.

Upon entering Lightridge, LCPS’ new teachers immediately felt that sense of connection as they were welcomed like celebrities, complete with a red carpet and warm greetings from members of Lightridge’s cheer squad.

The feeling of connection continued as LCPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ashley Ellis and Chair of Loudoun County’s School Board Jeff Morse shared words of welcome.

Ellis congratulated the first-year teachers on choosing a career that makes important contributions to communities and to the country. “Some say teaching is a profession that makes all other professions possible,” said Ellis. “You are the ones who will make a positive impression on students’ lives. You will create a haven for students to thrive and learn and become empowered to make their own contributions and you will do this by building relationships with your students.”

Morse reiterated Ellis’ welcome and highlighted the important role these new educators will play in empowering students. “What goes on in our classrooms every day is miraculous. You are shaping the future of our nation and the world, one child at a time. You are enabling all of our students to make meaningful contributions to the world,” said Morse.

BTI also provides the opportunity to introduce new teachers to LCPS policy. During her welcoming remarks, Ellis shared that LCPS recently adopted a new strategic plan, One LCPS: 2027 Strategic Plan for Excellence. The mission of the strategic plan and one that she truly believes in, said Ellis, is to empower all students to make meaningful contributions to the world. “I love this mission so much because it’s not about students passing a test. It’s not about getting into college or choosing a profession. It’s about making a difference in whatever way that makes sense to the student and then having the skills, tools and resources to have the power to make those contributions,” she said.

BTI also provides new teachers with skills and strategies to help them succeed. The new teachers also had an opportunity to network and meet colleagues who are in similar positions.  

Stephanie Ryan was among the new teachers at BTI. After three years as a substitute teacher and long-term substitute, Ryan will be a chemistry teacher at John Champe High. She hopes that in her first year she can create a “positive learning environment in my classroom and really build a rapport with my students. I hope that I will be able to walk away from each day, saying ‘I did my absolute best and I am proud of myself,’ and understand that the students aren’t the only ones that will be learning – I will be right there with them,” said Ryan.

Lauren Reed, who will also be teaching at John Champe in the English department, has similar hopes for the new year. “I hope the students are excited that we are here and know that their teachers support and appreciate them and want them to succeed.”

At the conclusion of the two-day session, Baye felt that BTI was a success. “We put a lot of intentionality into the program. We really want the new teachers to feel special. We want them to know that we are glad they are part of LCPS. I hope everyone walked away with that feeling.”

Published August 18, 2022