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Johnson City school district welcomes new employees, reflects on past year

Brandon Paykamian • Aug 1, 2019 at 10:00 PM

Johnson City Schools held its Welcome Back In-Service program Thursday morning at Grace Fellowship Church, welcoming staff, administrators and teachers back to begin a new school year.

There were some new faces in the crowd at the event, according to Johnson City Board of Education Chairman Tim Belisle.

“I was told before we started here that we have about 80 new employees here with the system, and I think there are a number of student-teachers here, as well,” he said. “For all you newbies, I want to say welcome and congratulations. We’re looking forward to what you all do and what our students do under your efforts.”

Recognition was also given to returning staff — some of whom are returning to work Monday after recent promotions.

Former North Side Elementary instructor and Fairmont Elementary Assistant Principal Kaytee Jones was appointed principal of South Side Elementary School in May after Anne Littleford’s retirement. She said she wouldn’t have been able to take the new job without support and guidance from her colleagues in the district.

“There are so many things I love about this school system, including the pride I feel being among top-notch educators,” she said.

That level of support among teachers and staff has been particularly important throughout the past year, according to Johnson City Education Association President Joe Crabtree.

Crabtree reflected on the help given to Liberty Bell Middle School instructor and local soccer coach Michael Smelser after he was injured in a fire in March. Months later, Crabtree said he was inspired to see the compassionate response after Woodland Elementary instructor Tiffany Collins recently lost her home in a fire.

“Both are tragedies, and in both instances, their lives could’ve just upended and stopped,” Crabtree said. “But they didn’t, and that’s because of the community.

“Quickly, we saw all these people coming to their side to help,” he continued. “We saw donations being made left and right, GoFundMe pages put up and put out … It’s a truly magical thing to see, and it tells you how much our teachers and staff are loved in this system.”

The event culminated with keynote motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs.

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