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Chamber lunch welcomes new teachers to D-428

DeKALB – Jennifer Robertson admits that she occasionally relies on her GPS to get around DeKalb.

Robertson moved to Rockford from her native Texas in June and is busy preparing for her new job as a counselor and assessment coordinator at DeKalb High School, a school that wowed her at first.

"All schools run somewhat the same, but this school is amazing and beautiful," she said. "I have never seen a school this beautiful before. I think I walked in and my mouth just dropped to the floor, like, 'wow.' "

Robertson was in good company Wednesday at the annual New Teachers Welcome Event, which the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce has organized for the past four years.

The event at DeKalb High School provided a comfortable atmosphere for the 32 new teachers in DeKalb School District 428 to meet and talk with each other and with community leaders over lunch. Each new teacher left with a bag containing 65 different items that donated by DeKalb and Sycamore businesses.

"Coffee mugs, gift certificates, bags, pennants, candy, you name it," Matt Duffy, the chamber's executive director, said. "The idea is to welcome them and to show them the great community that we have here. ... It gives the community and the teachers a chance to interact."

The event also served to raise fund for DeKalb students,

"All the funds that are raised from this go back to scholarships," Duffy said. "They go to DeKalb High School students, and they have to attend local colleges, universities or trade schools. So in essence the money comes from the community, and it goes back out to the community by taking care of community members."

Kary Landon spent the last five years working as an assistant in the district, but will be starting this fall as a special education teacher at Huntley Middle School. She was there Wednesday.

"I'm most excited to start working with the kids and to start building the relationships," Landon said. "It's nice to meet other people in the community that I might not have otherwise met."

Landon was hesitant to speak about the ongoing contract negotiations between teachers union and district leaders.

"It's something that I'm staying pretty clear away from," Landon said.

The union filed the necessary 10-day notice of intent to strike Aug. 8, but meetings between the two sides and a federal mediator are scheduled before the first day of school Wednesday.

Robertson just hopes talks don't prevent her from getting into the classroom on time.

"I'm just trying not to worry about it, and hope that we start on time," Robertson said. "Luckily I'm selling a house in Texas right now, so I'm okay money-wise, but I'm ready to get started, so I hope that we do get started on time."

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