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New Valley teachers preparing for a school year of firsts

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 23, 2021

SURPRISE, AZ — Students are not the only ones wrapping up their first week back to school, new teachers are also on campus getting ready for a year of firsts.

A half-dozen new teachers learned the Canyon Ridge Elementary campus on Wednesday, ahead of their first official day of classes on August 3.

"Last year we did all of our training virtually because of the circumstances, so this year we just really made sure that the in-person training that we're providing had that personal touch," said Adriel Grieshaber, Dysart Unified School District's literacy coordinator.

This year, Dysart Unified is welcoming 125 teachers who are either new to the district or new to the profession. The orientation covers everything from copy room logistics to professional development and curriculum.

"Getting back to the basics of good practices," said Grieshaber. "Really supporting our teachers in that community building again, having that freedom to build the community and really getting to know the kids in that in-person setting."

First-year teacher Riley Walkenbach is still putting the final touches on her third-grade classroom.

"Definitely a little nervous, but more excited than anything because like I said, I've wanted to be a teacher for so long," she said.

The recent NAU grad and former Dysart School District student says watching the pandemic unfold while she was still in college only strengthened her desire to teach.

While she knows there is an added learning curve coming off last year, her main goal this year is simple.

"Definitely prioritizing the relationship building," said Walkenbach. "I hope they just take away a fun experience. Obviously, learning is a big part of this, but I want to make learning fun."