New Hire Orientation 2021
Welcome! New staff begin their next career journey at district orientation
If there is one thing new staff learned during the welcome on orientation day, it is that Port Chester schools are an amazing place to be.
“Port Chester is really a very rewarding place to work,” Judy Diaz, principal of John F. Kennedy Elementary School, told the newcomers.
“This is an amazingly unique district,” said Port Chester Middle School Principal Patrick Swift.
“This is a place where people come to stay,” added Diantha Barone, who is now serving as a PCMS assistant principal.
The praise continued.
“This is the best place to work on the planet,” Mike Ritacco, director of technology and 21st century learning, said. “We have, by far, the best kids.”
On Aug. 25, more than 50 new district hires met via Zoom as part of a new staff orientation welcome from district administrators. It was the start of a two-day program as they learned about the district and what it is like to work here.
They were greeted by Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez, who shared that she was new to the district as well, and she has learned since her start in July about the “incredible team” she works with.
“It’s important we begin this school year building relationships,” she said. “It’s not just about building trust; it’s forming that bond.”
Dr. Henriquez also shared a short video that highlighted how developing relationships with students is so important for student success. It is also enriching for teachers and staff.
“Begin by being vulnerable,” she encouraged the staff.
During the 45-minute session, the newcomers had an opportunity to introduce themselves and to share the position they were hired for and the school(s) where they would be working in. Among the new staff are teachers, Response to Intervention professionals, teacher aides, school psychologists and more.
Board of Education President Chrissie Onofrio also addressed the participants.
“On behalf of the entire Board of Education, I welcome you,” she said. “It’s certainly not an easy time to be a teacher, but our students are lucky to have you.”
“I am happy to see the smiles behind the masks,” Deputy Superintendent Mitchell Combs said.
It was the first time Dr. Combs had seen many of the new hires without masks. Since he worked with them throughout the interview process, everyone was masked. He saw their full faces for the first time during the virtual orientation.
Dr. Combs echoed what many of the veteran staff had shared.
“With talent, enthusiasm and hard work, anything can be accomplished,” he said. “I think we found that with this group.”