New teachers at Robert Smalls International Academy prepare for their first day of school

Back To School

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – For as long as she can remember, Victoria Settlemire knew she wanted to be a teacher. 

“There’s never a time when I’ve looked back and thought, ‘What did I want to do when I was little?’ I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Settlemire said.

The day she’s been waiting for since she was in grade school has finally arrived. Along with about 50 percent of Robert Smalls International Academy, Victoria will be teaching in her own classroom for the first time.

Cindy Dunkin, the new chorus teacher at Robert Smalls, says she’s most excited to meet her first-time students and create positive relationships with them.

“My biggest goal is to help the children find their voice,” Dunkin said. “At Robert Smalls, they believe every child has genius, so pulling that out of the students and helping them work together as a team and as a community.” 

Principal Jennifer Morillo’s advice to the new teachers? Get to know your students on a personal level.

“I think building relationships is really important,” Morillo said. “Building relationships with students, with your community, with your other colleagues is huge. 

“Kids want to know how much you care for them before they care about how much you actually know.” 

She also tells new teachers to dive into their environment as quickly as possible. 

“Learning the culture of a school is really important. We feel strongly as a school that leadership and culture has to come first before you focus on academics,” Morillo said.

Of course, one of the more fun ways for teachers to prepare for the new school year is getting to decorate their classrooms to make sure students are engaged and feel comfortable. 

“I wanted it to be bright,” Settlemire said. “I didn’t want a specific theme. I wanted it to be bright colors so when you come in you feel welcome and at home.”

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