Samara Carroll is like her students at Bunche Montessori Early Childhood Center – starting an unusual academic year without years of knowing what it's like to teach before the coronavirus pandemic.
And Carroll said she was fortunate to have a blank slate.
“I don't know anything otherwise,” said Carroll, a recent college graduate, whose students are ages 3 to 6.
Carroll was among 49 new teachers the Fort Wayne Community Schools board approved Aug. 10. Even more educators were hired earlier in the summer, including 69 in late July, as some teachers submitted COVID-related resignations or retirements.
Summer hire Jordan Cain, orchestra director and assistant band director at Snider High School, liked that FWCS' reopening plan included in-person instruction.
Cain, 25, previously taught in California. Most schools in Southern California planned to start the semester with virtual learning, he said.
“I saw a tremendous pull to Snider and Indiana knowing that they were going to start with in-person instruction,” said Cain, who is in his third year of teaching and earned a bachelor's degree from Indiana University.
The culture of excellence surrounding Indiana music programs also attracted Cain to the opening, he said, calling it a wonderful career opportunity.
Cain didn't have any reservations about the new school year, noting students and staff are practicing social distancing and following other health guidelines.
Teaching in person is a blessing, he said.
“It was difficult to keep classes in the performing arts goal-driven when practices and performances were canceled last spring,” Cain said.
Meanwhile, Carroll had some pandemic-related concerns, she said, but the worries weren't enough to prevent her from applying to Bunche, where she student taught last year.
“I'm glad that this position opened up here, for sure,” Carroll said.
Although it's not easy to begin a new job during the pandemic, she said it's comforting to know experienced teachers aren't facing the status quo either.
“We're all learning new procedures together,” Carroll said.