This is Jenn Brown's first week of classes, and she's soaking it all in because she'll be on her own pretty soon. She's among 80-plus new teachers in the WCPS system attending a four-day training academy.
By the end of the program, the tables will turn, and she will be leading a group of fifth graders.
"I'm very excited to work with the students, and it's been a dream of mine to become an elementary school teacher," she says.
The school system has over 22,000 students, and administrators want to prepare staff to deal with the rigors of national standards such as "No Child Left Behind."
Carol Corwell-Martin, a WCPS teaching specialist, says, "I believe that they are very eagerly looking foward to the students arriving. Some are a little bit nervous."
The school system is also facing other obstacles. Budget cuts have resulted in less new hires.
"I think everybody is facing challenges because of the economy. We are looking at ways to be more effective, more efficient," explains Dave Reeder, the director of middle school education.
Despite the challenges, officials say they are trying to make the transition smoother by providing mentorship programs, technical support, and continuous education. They hope the measures will make it easier for teachers to focus on the students.
Diana Butler, a new third grade teacher, adds, "I'm looking forward to building that kind of team relationship and family relationship with them, and the community as well."
The school board is encouraging the public to attend its board meeting later this month for a more in depth overview.