The communities of Grayson County’s two largest cities gathered Thursday and Friday with each city’s Chamber of Commerce to welcome the new teachers joining the Denison Independent School District and Sherman Independent School District.

On Thursday, the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed around 70 new teachers and paraprofessionals from Denison ISD, with the help of around 60 to 70 community members. Friday saw more than 280 people, including 107 new Sherman ISD teachers and employees, fill the Sherman Municipal Ballroom for the Sherman Chamber of Commerce’s annual new teacher luncheon.

“Anytime you have the whole community come out to welcome our teachers, it is a priceless experience,” Sherman ISD Superintendent David Hicks said. “Sherman is a unique place. Family is important and it is at the foundation of what we do. But what’s special about Sherman is that extends to teachers and new businesses. The support for our teachers in this community is unmatched.”

Denison ISD Superintendent Henry Scott said the Denison Chamber’s annual luncheon is one of the best parts of the new teacher orientation.

“The community comes together to provide this luncheon for our new teachers to welcome them to Denison and Denison ISD,” Scott said. “It’s just the kind of support that we have from our Chamber and our community and our businesses, who really help send a message to these new teachers that they’re in a special school district and a special community. It just sends a message to those new teachers that the community’s behind you.”

Interim Denison Chamber President Shelle Cassell said Board Chair Elaine Burkhalter shared inspirational words about the jobs ahead of the new teachers and how much respect the community has for people who choose that as a profession.

“I think they were very appreciative of the community and the school district opening their arms and trying to get them as connected with as many people and as many resources as they possibly could,” Cassell said of the new teachers. “We appreciate the support of the community and the businesses in our area who make those things possible, and the work of the Chamber Education Committee to put it all together is just tremendous.”

New Neblett Elementary kindergarten teacher Brittney Aldridge said the keynote address United Way of Grayson County President David Cortinas gave about the power of teachers at the Sherman luncheon was inspiring. Aldridge’s fellow Neblett kindergarten teacher Chelsey Peters agreed the speech was inspiring and is excited to start her first year.

“Just seeing the growth in my students from the beginning to the end and establishing relationships with students,” Peters said of what she’s looking forward to about the new year.

Sherman Chamber President Eddie Brown said everyone who attended Friday’s event seemed to be happy with it.

“It turned out great,” Brown said. “This year from the local businesses and community, we collected more items for the teachers than we’ve ever gotten.”

Scott said, in addition to being a great way for the teachers to see the community’s support, these new teacher luncheons are an excellent way to get the new school year started.

“I’m just excited about the school year,” Scott said. “I think we’re going to have a great year.”