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Higley matches first-year teachers with mentors

Teachers working together with students
Higley Unified School District not only provides insights and learning to its students, but also to its first-year teachers.

The New Teacher Mentor Program at Higley is designed to give first-year teachers the support they need as they begin their teaching careers. Each new teacher receives a site-based mentor, as well as a district-based mentor/coach.

“I really believe giving first-year teachers the attention they need really translates into a calmer classroom atmosphere,” Language Arts ELA Instructional Coach Valerie Putnam said.

The principals of the individual schools pair the teachers together. At the elementary level, teachers are paired by grade level. The teachers are paired by subject matter for middle school and high school levels.

Literacy Coach Joyce Jamerson said the program is very effective and allows for the first-year teachers to build connections with faculty members.

“The mentor-mentee relationship is built on trust,” Jamerson said.
“Unpredictable situations happen that are not gone over in staff meetings and that is what the mentors are for. First-year teachers need support because there is a lot of responsibility that comes with the position.”

Special Education Resource Teacher Katherine King is a first year teacher at Gateway Pointe Elementary School this year and is Jamerson’s mentee.

“It’s nice to have someone to go to for support,” King said. “I’m definitely grateful to be here at HSD and look forward to what the rest of the year has in store.”

The district has 45 first-year elementary teachers and 65 first-year middle and high school teachers this year.

The mentors are required to meet with their mentees weekly. The mentors help the new teachers with a multitude of things, from subject matter to email use to taking attendance. District-based mentor/coaches visit classrooms to provide additional support and send along articles and information on best teaching practices.

Mentors keep a log to track activities the mentees perform. Professional development meetings are held at the district office open to all new teachers.
“The mentor programs build relationships among the teachers,” Director of Curriculum and Instruction Sheryl Rednor said. “This gives the new teachers someone they know and can trust.”