By Todd Martin

    The first day of school can be a mix of excitement over new friends and challenges and the anxiety of the uncertain – and that’s for the teachers.

    Across the Killeen Independent School District, experienced teaching faculty and instructional aides joined new teachers Thursday for professional development and preparation for the coming school year.

    Killeen High School Principal Susan Buckley seized on a “Mission Possible” theme and recruited assistance from the school’s adopt-a-school unit and the School Liaison Office on Fort Hood to support the effort.

    Camouflage, mesh netting and assorted military gear decorated the cafeteria where teachers and other staff gathered for instruction in the morning prior to boot camp.

    Much of the day, the 140 or so KHS staff members completed problem-solving, team-building activities in the gym. The school’s coaching staff planned and operated the challenge stations.

    Divided into separate companies by academic departments, the teachers worked together on mental and physical challenges during the boot camp spread over the school gyms.

    The Mission Possible theme, Buckley said, refers to continually focusing on improving instruction and rigor and building relationships with colleagues and with students.

    “It’s a mission to get better at what we do for teachers and for students,” she said.

    The teacher companies competed in timed relays to earn bragging rights and to build cohesion.

    “It’s about team building and working together,” said coach Greg Russell, one of several coaches running the challenges.

    Some of the activities, like a “mine sweep” game, called on figuring out and following patterns. Others simply called on moving quickly and cheering each other on.

    “At the beginning of the school year, this is a good way to get to know each other,” Russell said.

    Biology teacher Brooke Knight said the first day back is one of her favorites on the school calendar to reacquaint with friends.

    “It’s nice to come back and see people and work together,” she said. “We are enjoying each other’s company. I think it puts us in the right mindset.”

    Chemistry teacher Jose Rodriguez said the active “boot camp” games were consistent with the district’s and school’s mission and goals to collaborate together. “We’re applying the values of what we learn in school.”

    Teachers new to KISD went through induction the previous two days before joining their veteran colleagues on their campuses Thursday. Professional development on a broad range of instructional practices and policies continues the next two weeks.

    August 10, 2017

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