Daniel Nemerow is one of more than 800 new teachers who will join Prince William County schools this year.
The 26-year-old should be forgiven, though, if his arrival seems very familiar: He is the son of two Prince William County educators, and two of his three siblings also are county teachers.
Not only that, but he will be working alongside his brother Nate at PACE West, a county school for students with behavioral and emotional disturbances. His mother, Lynn Nemerow, and sister, Rebecca Tillett, work together at Sudley Elementary. His father, Larry, is the specialty program coordinator at Osbourn Park High School. The youngest, Jonah, is a college student who is considering making education his career.
"It almost seems like old hat, because I've been around it my whole life," Daniel Nemerow said.
His situation may be extreme, but is not unusual. Many of the county's new teachers were lured to the district by current staff members, said Darlene Faltz, supervisor of recruitment and specialty programs for Prince William.
Moreover, the hiring continues. By Sept. 7, close to 850 teachers will be hired for this year, Faltz said. Manassas and Manassas Park expect to hire about the same number of teachers as they did last year. Kenneth LaLonde, director of human resources for Manassas schools, said the system expects to hire 40 to 50 new teachers. Manassas Park filled 22 vacancies, school staff members said.
Each year, Prince William brings together all its new teachers for seminars and a pep talk before school begins. Faltz distributes surveys at that time, asking teachers why they chose the district.
Many say they were lured by the proximity to Washington and the salary and benefits. But another sizable number said they had heard about the county's reputation, or were told about the county by people who work here.
Tanya Ocasio, 34, is going to be a Head Start teacher at Neabsco Elementary. She worked in Orange County, Va., for seven years before joining the county staff.
"I've heard that they train their teachers, and there's a lot of resources," Ocasio said. "And since I've been here, I've seen that."
At Wednesday's gathering for new teachers, Ocasio looked out at the crowd. "I come from a county where the whole county staff would equal the new staff here," she said. "It's a change, but a nice one."
Prince William also makes an effort to hire people switching careers, such as Mari Gonzalez, a former probation officer who will join the staff of Fred Lynn Middle School as a special education teacher.
"Being a probation officer, you work with emotionally disturbed adults, and it's almost always too late," said Gonzalez, 36. "With a child, it's not too late."
That's one of the reasons the Nemerow brothers, Daniel and Nate, were drawn to working with students who have special needs. Too often, these children have been cast aside by adults, he said.
"When someone does take the time to work with them, they really appreciate it," Daniel Nemerow said.
The Nemerows say they didn't intend to raise a family full of teachers. "We used to joke that none of them would be teachers because we were showing them too much poverty," Larry Nemerow said.
But the family never tried to separate work and home life. At school activities, the children came along too. They say they've all been working with and around kids for years. "I tell people it's hereditary or something," said Nate Nemerow, 23.
Their sister said she just felt right as a student-teacher. "It just felt like that's what I'm supposed to be," said Tillett, 27.
All the Nemerow children say they appreciate the built-in support network. Not only are both parents teachers, but each has been honored as teacher of the year by the county.
"They've seen school from the inside out since they were toddlers," Lynn Nemerow said. That they've chosen this profession "is quite an honor back to us."