Students aren’t the only ‘new faces’ in Gwinnett schools









Students aren’t the only ‘new faces’ in Gwinnett schools

Julian Gonzalez
Lilburn MS teacher
A veteran New York City teacher, Julian Gonzales moved his family to Georgia in search of a different, less aggressive environment, inside and outside of the classroom. “I’ve gotten more than I bargained for,” says Mr. Gonzales, who joined the Lilburn MS staff last spring as an orchestra teacher. “I wanted a community where I could work, create, and get support, and I have gotten that tenfold.” He says the teamwork and camaraderie that he’s found with his colleagues and the growth that he and his students have experienced in the classroom have underscored that his decision was a good one. “I am proud and happy to be here.”

Some first-time teachers may be new to the profession, but not to Gwinnett. A Duluth HS graduate, the new media specialist at Alton C. Crews MS changed careers to work with Gwinnett students. “I wanted to come back and make a difference in the community where I grew up,” says Jennifer LaHatte, whose parents and aunt also work for the school system.

Finishing her master’s degree at Emory University, Darcy O’Brien heard good things about a school system right up I-85. “I heard that Gwinnett was a place that supported teachers.” She says the new teacher orientation confirmed what she’d heard and gave her a good understanding of what to expect. “Gwinnett is a place where I can be on board with the focus on learning.” That student focus, along with a diverse and changing student population, made GCPS appealing to this first-year teacher at Berkmar HS.

Pinckneyville MS social studies teacher Justin Zaleski appreciated the school system’s top-notch reputation. “If you love this profession and want to be at the top of your game, you definitely want to come to Gwinnett County to pursue your career,” he says.

Michael McIntyre, a new language arts teacher at Frank N. Osborne MS, left a sales position to pursue a teaching career. “This is a great county in which to learn… The support is amazing— from the Board of Education all the way down… It’s good to know I have resources to back me up.”

Jessica Yoo
Duluth MS teacher
Even with five years of teaching experience, Jessica Yoo sees value in the support network she has as a new social studies teacher at Duluth MS. She says, “With the orientation and local school training, I feel that I will have plenty of resources to use for teaching. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful so I don’t foresee any problems in the support department.”

Fresh out of school or simply new to Gwinnett, each teacher was eager for the first day with students. Rory Welsh, a first-year teacher at Charles Brant Chesney ES, was looking forward to making his mark on the PE program at a nearly new school. A 20-year veteran, Deb Johnson was sold on GCPS’ reputation for excellence and excited about starting “a new career in a new state” as a music teacher at Dr. M. H. Mason Jr. ES. She and husband Mark, a new math teacher at Richard Hull MS, made the move from Wisconsin. Science Teacher Sherrie Hart did her homework before applying with GCPS. After extensive Internet research and calls to friends in the area, she concluded that Gwinnett was a great fit. With orientation behind her, Ms. Hart was eager to start the year at Five Forks MS.

Ms. Yoo also was looking forward to meeting and teaching her new students. However, she was looking ahead to the last day, too. “I hope to see that my students have matured and have learned a lot from their school year,” she says.