10/04/11 — School district sharpens efforts for new teachers

View Archive

School district sharpens efforts for new teachers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 4, 2011 1:46 PM

Wayne County's Board of Education Monday night approved revisions to the school district's Beginning Teacher Support Program, which provides mentoring, staff development opportunities and other supplemental elements.

The effort was retooled to submit to the state, said Debbie Durham, director of human resources and physical education. Standards for the program, in accord with N.C. Mentor Standards, were established to ensure those new to the profession have the same opportunities for growth as veteran teachers.

Elements include a 10-day orientation and the district's Summer Institute, held prior to the start of school; providing a teaching and learning coach to serve as mentors and offer support for beginning teachers; professional development in such areas as classroom management and instructional strategies; and ongoing monitoring, assessments and program evaluation.

The program primarily focuses on the first three years of teaching, with an emphasis on helping them become proficient and move toward becoming "better educators to improve student achievement." A teaching and learning coach is assigned to each beginning teacher during that time.

"We can't say no to this," Thelma Smith, board chairwoman, said after the presentation.

"I think that our beginning teacher program in Wayne County is second to none," added Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent. "That support is not only for the beginning teachers but for any teachers that need additional help.

"We're trying to make our teachers as successful as they can be."

Mrs. Smith, herself a retired educator, expressed appreciation for the support the program provides fledgling teachers.

"For a beginning teacher, many of us, there was a time when you signed a contract, you were given a classroom and a book -- you remember that, Mr. Radford?" she said, referencing board member Eddie Radford, also a retired educator and administrator, "and you were on your own; you really were on your own."

Board member Rick Pridgen said he has heard many "inspiring stories" while serving on the panel to choose the district's beginning teacher of the year, as well as from veterans who would likely have stayed on in other school systems had they received the kind of support such a program offered.