Tift schools stage 'Olympic' school opening - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tift schools stage 'Olympic' school opening

(WALB image) (WALB image)
Andrew Ellis (WALB image) Andrew Ellis (WALB image)
(WALB image) (WALB image)
Kevin Dobard (WALB image) Kevin Dobard (WALB image)

Traffic is heavier than normal in Blue Devil country, because Tift County heading back to class today.
And despite what's happening at other area school systems - Tift County is not seeing a shortage in teachers. Tift County School System employees got an Olympic-style welcome during last week's new employee orientation.

"So we have the gold medals going out and we're glad to have them," said Kevin Dobard  of the school system.

With a current retention rate of 90%, many educators are returning to their classrooms this year. Plus, more than 60 new teachers will begin teaching in Tift County today. Something that's becoming unusual throughout the country.

"We have a decrease of individuals that's enrolling in the college of education in college and we have baby boomers who are retiring in large numbers," Dobard said.

Among the hirees is Andrew Ellis. He starts his first year as the new music teacher at Charles Spencer Elementary. "Music has always been a big part of my life, so I just like to share my passion with other students," he said.

Ellis, who is originally from Cordele, is glad to make Tift County his new home. "I have been very welcomed here by the staff and the band program, so it feels like home here."

The school system's executive director of HR credits the new employee orientation as part of the high retention rate. "You want to cheer your employees on. You want to be there for them, you want to help them, you want to see them succeed most importantly," Dobard said.

And it looks like it's working. With hopes of eventually becoming a high school band director, Ellis already has plans of staying.

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