As it has for nearly 25 years, Pioneer School District provided this year's crop of new teachers with a hands-on introduction to the Pioneer area.
ABOVE: New teachers and long-term subs are ready for the Pioneer Bus Tour, part of three days of orientation.
Many times, that indoctrination has included a bus tour. This lap around the district gets the employees acclimated to the geography, climate, and poverty associated with largely rural Pioneer.
"If someone comes to the area and only made it as far as Yorkshire, they never get a true picture of what we're about,' said Jeff Mason, former Pioneer Social Studies teacher, local historian and an Arcade Central alum.
Mr. Mason said not only do the teachers get a sense of how poor the area is, but also what it's like to ride the bus for an hour just to get to school.
He credited former superintendent Jeffrey Bowen for instituting the bus tour and other elements of new teacher orientation in the mid-1990s, back when Dr. Bowen was assistant superintendent.
In the case of this year's bus tour, some of the new teachers and long-term teacher substitutes could point out their former residences from when they attended Pioneer. There was also a quiz at the beginning (to test what the travelers already knew) and maps provided by Mr. Mason to track their progress.
ABOVE: Jeff Mason's map gives new staff a snapshot of the 250-square-mile Pioneer School District.
What was the payoff for following this trail? "I want the teachers to appreciate the complexity of transporting our students, to know the location of our four buildings, to see the various villages and hamlets, to experience the business districts and the mix of economic activities, to learn the different types of housing stock, and get a sense of the relationship of the environment to economic development," Mr. Mason said.
One of Pioneer's staff development objectives for the last several years has been to study the causes and effects of poverty, especially as it relates to education.