Despite the gloomy, foggy weather outside, the mood inside the Cassingham Complex's community room last week was festive.
Seventeen new teachers lined tables, munching on bagels, pastries and fruit, as Bexley City School District administrators and staff rolled out the red carpet for the newcomers.
The annual new teacher orientation is a traditional event for Bexley as the district readies for the new school year, which began Wednesday, Aug. 14 in the district.
"I am amazed by the community support here," Laura Lipsett, the district's curriculum director, told the group who hailed from North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Ohio -- to name a few. "In Bexley, we let our children soar by creating opportunities.
"People like it here and people are treated well here."
Mike Johnson, the district's superintendent, called the community "generous" in his morning welcome to teachers.
School board President Carol Fey and board member Melissa Lacroix were also on hand to greet the new teachers.
One of the summer tasks for district administrators is the recruiting, interviewing and hiring of new teachers. In most cases, the new staff members replace recent retirees or teachers who have relocated.
Cassingham Principal Jeannine Hetzler did not have to look far to find a general music teacher to fill the job of the retired Deborah Forsblom. Diane Goodney is a Bexley Schools parent who recently held a long-term substitute position at Maryland Elementary School. Goodney, a graduate of the University of Georgia, also has taught at the McGuffey Foundation School and in public schools in Marquette, Mich.
She said she was drawn to apply for the Cassingham job because of Bexley's "incredible parent and community support of the arts and ... the strong music program already in place at Cassingham."
Emily Rieser will be taking on the art specialist position recently vacated by the retired Becky Liefeld. Rieser is already familiar with Bexley Schools, having recently led (along with Maryland art specialist Lisa Viney) a summer art camp in the district. The new staff member, who has taught in schools in Ohio and Illinois, holds a bachelor's of fine arts from Ohio State, as well as a master's arts degree from Columbia College in Chicago.
In addition, Montrose will also welcome Jami Doster as the school's new speech language pathologist. Doster replaces Kathryn Behrens, who retired in the spring. Certified by the Ohio Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, she earned a bachelor's degree from Ohio State and master's from the University of Toledo and has worked in South-Western City Schools.
Bexley High School recently hired Angela Oxley to replace math teacher Ali Fleming, who is taking a sabbatical leave this school year. Oxley holds a licensure in Integrated Mathematics and has worked most recently in South-Western City Schools.
English teacher Michelle Current will replace Jeannie Goodwin, who resigned in the spring. Current previously taught in Columbus City School from 2008 through last school year.
According to Harley Williams, principal of secondary schools in the district, each position required about 25 hours to screen some 150 resumes and conduct three rounds of interviews, with the first round typically including about 12 candidates.
"We are very happy with our interview process results," he said. "We appreciate the support we receive from parents, students and staff who are typically involved in the final interviews. We are bringing in a strong group of teachers to replace the talented ones we lost."
Bexley also welcomed Crystal Carley (middle school language arts), Mary Edwards (Maryland Elementary intervention), Helma Groot (high school art), Nichole Hoch (high school science), David Leland (high school guidance), Charlyn Mancuso (Montrose Elementary kindergarten), Heather Prichard (high school social studies), Sara Robertson (middle school language arts), Lindsay Shankle (Maryland Elementary and middle school Spanish), Elizabeth Stachler (Cassingham Elementary kindergarten), Emily Wiegman (Maryland Elementary fourth grade), and Anita Diop (Columbus State Community College dual enrollment instructor).
Bexley teachers -- veterans and newcomers alike -- opened their classrooms to students for the 2013-2014 school year Wednesday, Aug. 14.