NEW TEACHER SUPPORT
*New Teacher Orientation - Teachers new to Somerset County Public Schools report five days before the regular staff to become acquainted with their school, the school system and the community. This enables new teachers to become acquainted with their surroundings in a smooth, systematic and non-stressful way. In addition, new teachers also spend time with their mentors during this earlier start.
Mentoring Program: "Breathe Your Wind Beneath Its Wings"
Since School Year 2000-2001, Somerset County Public Schools has supported teachers new to the schools. Whether just beginning in the profession, or experienced yet new to SCPS, teachers in their first or second years in SCPS classrooms have been given the support of mentors.
In-school peer mentors are available each day. Retired teacher educators also provide support. Their role is support rather than evaluation. Confidentiality is the rule.
The 2 goals of the mentoring program are: 1) to keep our effective new teachers; and, 2) to increase student achievement in the classrooms of our new teachers.
It is acknowledged that the process of learning to teach is not complete when a beginning teacher is hired for a position in a classroom. That learning requires at least two years. Help is needed; this mentoring program is meant to help in that process for beginning teachers.
Students in the classrooms of beginning teachers can be at an advantage by having teachers with the most up-to-date knowledge in teaching and in their respective subject areas. Often, they are young and able to relate well to their students. Their students also can be at a disadvantage, through no fault of their own or of the new teachers, due to a new teacher's lack of extensive experience. As the new teachers are supported in their development, it is believed that students will derive the direct benefits, and their achievement will increase. Our experience in this mentoring program supports that view; SCPS has been able to retain over 75% of its newly-hired teachers.
Many in-school mentor peer teachers have been given specific training through a Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) course. They, and the many master teachers who have served as mentors through the years, are to be commended for their commitment to the new teachers, the system and our profession.
The retired teacher-educators who currently serve new teachers are Charles Simpson, visiting new teachers at the elementary schools and Somerset Intermediate, and Sharon Clark, visiting new teachers at the academies and high schools.
Mr. Lawson, who recognized the need for this program in 2000 and wrote the original grant proposal to MSDE, continues to monitor its success. He reports that teachers aspiring to teach in SCPS usually ask, during their interviews, if mentor help is available to them after being hired. Thus, beginning teachers recognize the value of mentoring for new teachers.
Mr. Lawson, and all of us who work in the mentoring program, invite your evaluations and comments. Forms below are available for that purpose.