Eager to Start: Newly Hired Teachers Share Excitement About Making a Difference for FCPS Students
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Jeonga Hong was a paralegal assisting with patent and trademark applications before she realized she really wanted to teach high school math.
Taylor Taylor taught in Texas, and when her husband’s job took them to the D.C. area, she jumped at the opportunity to join a Blue Ribbon school in FCPS.
And Ava Minutello just got her Masters degree in foreign language instruction and can’t wait to facilitate a community of Latin language learners.
Christiana Edinborough came to the U.S. from the Caribbean five years ago with no idea what she wanted to do for a career. She began tutoring FCPS students during college and she’s now entering her second year of teaching.
These four teachers are just a few of the hundreds of new hires joining Fairfax County Public Schools this year. At a time when the national teacher shortage is making headlines, many on the ground are eager to share why they’re stepping up in this community.
“I always had great language teachers and I knew in a language classroom there is such a wide spectrum of content going on beyond the language itself,” says Ava Minutello, a recent graduate of a masters in teaching program at the University of Pittsburgh who is joining the McLean High School staff. “I will teach Latin, and I like to connect the subject with all its ties to the English language, mathematics and other areas.”
Minutello says she knew she wanted to move to the D.C. area to start her teaching career and a graduate school professor recommended Fairfax County. “I was told it was an incredible district to work for, lots of resources available to help teachers make student dreams come true and that people are really invested here.”
“I knew this is a community that prides itself on being academically competitive, so I was initially nervous, but the leadership and staff at McLean HS have been welcoming, supportive and generally interested in what help I need to succeed in my classroom,” she said.
Taylor Taylor had taught for three years in a Texas school district outside of Dallas. When her husband’s job took them to the D.C. area, she applied “all over” the region. The first principal to reach out was West Springfield Elementary School’s Kelly Sheers, Taylor said.
“I googled everything I could and saw this was nominated to be a Blue Ribbon School,” Taylor says referencing the federal government honor for high achieving programs. She also saw Sheers, her potential boss, had recently been named an “Outstanding Principal” for her region.
“Really everything I could ask for seemed to be here,” said Taylor, who will teach a fourth grade classroom at West Springfield ES. “I had such a positive first interaction with Dr. Sheers, it seemed like beyond filling the job she wanted to make sure this made sense for me too in terms of the commute from where I planned to live, the grades I wanted to teach."
Jeonga Hong, who previously worked as a paralegal at a law firm in Vienna, applied to get a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at George Mason University once she realized her “true passion” was in education. She will be teaching math at Annandale High School this year.
"I came here when I was 7 years old barely knowing any English,” Hong, a graduate of Centreville High School herself, says. “I was able to learn English,graduate college and will attend graduate school soon. I want to believe in students like my teachers believed in me.”
“I am so happy and proud to be back to teach in the county where I graduated from,” Hong says. “Moreover, I’m excited to teach in one of the most diverse counties in the United States.”
Fellow Annandale HS math teacher Christiana Edinborough found her passion for teaching while tutoring FCPS students through the program EduTutorVA during college at George Mason University. She says the most rewarding part of her job is helping students build confidence.
“I want to encourage the kids and teach them that there’s no such thing as a ‘math minded person’,” Edinborough said. “We take a look at where they’re at, how they can get better, and get them where they want to go.”
Edinborough was nervous going into her first year of teaching because at age 22, she wasn’t much older than the high school seniors filling her classroom. But thanks to her school community, she never doubted her decision to become a teacher at FCPS.
“There’s always a great camp of people around you. You’re never alone. I always felt like I had support. These kids need good teachers. They need someone who is going to show up everyday and be there for them.”