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Newton going global for teachers

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved at its Tuesday work session to enter into a contract with a teaching services company that will provide the school system with educators from a variety of countries and cultures.

Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley is expected to sign an agreement with Global Teachers Research and Resources, which will provide choices of teachers to the system on an "as-needed basis."

"This agreement would allow us to hire highly qualified international teachers in critical needs areas such as special education, math and science," said Dennis Carpenter, associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS. "The opportunity to partner with GTRR also will provide our students with rich, multi-cultural learning experiences."

Carpenter said the district is in need of those highly qualified teachers, which are lacking in this area. On Friday, he said the school system has about 80 vacancies.

According to a presentation in May to the board members by GTRR Executive Director Pamela Bouie, the program supplies choices of teachers for the school district who are fluent in English and have a visa that can extend their stay for up to six years or who apply for their green cards to obtain a permanent residency. The school system can use the provided teachers or not.

Carpenter said GTRR conducts a background check on the teachers from their home country and that the NCSS will conduct another background check from the United States.

GTRR also will support teachers with orientations, workshops, training sessions and classroom visitations, according to the presentation.

"Their transition to the U.S. needs to be very smooth for them," Bouie said.

She said GTRR will assist in relocating the teachers to live in Newton County and assist in the paperwork this summer to get them to the New Teachers Orientation before the school year starts in addition to meeting with principals during the school year to observe the new teachers and get feedback.

"Your students are assured of quality education," she said.

Carpenter said the only cost to the school system for these teachers is a $10,000 annual fee for GTRR to provide them benefits.

The contract with GTRR and NCSS expires at the end of the 2008-09 school year and can be renewed on an annual basis.

More information about GTRR can be found at www.gtrr.net.

In January, the Newton County BOE was presented with an opportunity from the Visiting International Faculty program, a national cultural exchange program that brings teachers from all over the world to teach in participating school districts. The board has yet to act on the proposal.

"All of (the school systems in Georgia) are looking at other nontraditional resources," Whatley said about recruiting new teachers.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.