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School system tends to new teachers’ personal needs

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources

Many of the new teachers who take jobs with the Charles County, MD, public school system need help adjusting to small-town life after they are hired. That help comes in the form of a teacher-services department staffed by a secretary, a veteran teacher and an HR specialist.

Beth Thorsen, a 15-year teaching veteran, helps newcomers find apartments, doctors and the best shopping malls. She gives free financial seminars and negotiates discounts for teachers at local stores and restaurants. 

Thorsen even plans social events, outings to baseball games and trips to nearby Baltimore and Washington, DC. All activities are free or at-cost to employees.

Once, Thorsen spent the night at the hospital with a new teacher who was having emergency surgery. Thorsen expects to have personal contact with each of the 260 teachers hired this year, inviting them to call her day or night.

“If we don’t get new teachers involved in the community, they’re going to leave us,” Thorsen says. The school system can hardly afford to lose more of its 2,006 teachers at a time when retirements are increasing.

“Every time we lose a teacher after one or two years it costs us $10,000 to $13,000 in recruiting, training and lost classroom time,” says Keith Hettel, assistant superintendent for HR. Keeping teachers in the system, he says, will easily cover the $300,000 annual budget for the teacher-services department.

Contact: Keith Hettel at

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