School system seeking mentors for new teachers

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The scenario is common. A recent graduate enters the teaching field with a passion for children, delves into year one of teaching and has an unexpected reality check.

“Teaching is really hard,” said Joslyn Fields, the coordinator of school improvement and professional learning for the Richmond County school system. “I think the colleges are doing a good job in preparing (teachers) for the profession, but until you have those children assigned in your class and you’re on your own, it’s a whole other situation. ... Sometimes it’s not what they thought they signed up for.”

To prevent new teachers from becoming discouraged in those first few years on the job, the school system is assigning mentors to those new to the profession.

The Strategic Mentoring and Retaining Teachers induction program will pair veteran teachers with those working their first five years in the profession, Fields said.

The deadline to apply to be a mentor is Wednesday, and Fields said she hopes to recruit at least 60 so she can assign one to each school.

The goal since the program began in 2009 has been to retain teachers and create stability for students.

“The whole idea is we have to retain the teachers that we get; otherwise, we’re just starting back at level one every single year,” Fields said.

Richmond County has been identified as one of 62 counties in Georgia that has problems keeping teachers in their first five years.

“It’s not just Richmond County; it’s with the profession,” Fields said. “We lose 20 percent of beginning teachers in the profession in the first five years. That’s why induction is so important.”

As part of the program, beginning teachers have monthly and group meetings with mentors and have the chance to observe their mentors’ techniques in a classroom.Mentors also critique the beginning teachers’ strategies and help them improve.

Richmond County had 128 new teachers being mentored last year, according to Fields. The system will have 143 new teachers on the roster this coming school year.

The mentors are paid through a professional learning grant, she said.

The perfect candidate is a teacher with more than five years of experience, deep content knowledge and talent for working with others, Fields said.

“It’s all about achievement,” Fields said. “We’re looking for that kind of indication to really help make sure our children have the best education possible.”


Applications, due Wednesday, can be e-mailed or delivered to Joslyn Fields, school improvement and professional learning coordinator, 864 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901 or

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scoobynews 07/23/12 - 09:04 pm
My first year of teaching was

My first year of teaching was at Glenn Hills Middle School and I never had a mentor. In fact if it had not been for a vetern teacher who took my under her wing I may not have made it through the year. After one year, I did not request a contract and took my chances finding another teaching job in any other county but Richmond. My past experience with "mentors" has not been positive. Each time you go to a new school you get a mentor and most of them just want extra money on their paycheck. I hope this program really does what it says and that these new teachers get the support they need.

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 07/24/12 - 01:11 am
"After all has been said and done, much more will have been...

said than done."

Fred S. Davison, late UGA president

lynn7044 07/24/12 - 07:24 am
The Word Is "Team"

It's a great ideal if you get veterans teacher with passion for teaching. Majority of my family are all teachers, we all wanted to help our youth. Teachers, must set the tone when the very first student walk in that classroom. You are there to teach and not to be friends with them. Parents, is also an important part to help making all good teachers stay.
As a parent, I alway make all my son teachers "A Fresh Start Bag" within the first week of school. That's a bag with a cup, coffee, tea, cookies, candy, some school supplies, and a questionnaire with my information. I do this to let them know we are in this together.
RCSS needs to work together as a team. Each school needs to work together as a team. Parents need to go to your child/ren and work as a team. Students, start your first 30 days and do what's right as a team. The reward will be life changing.

avidreader 07/24/12 - 10:23 am
Reality Check!

I am also supportive of ASU's teaching/training program; however, no college textbook or research paper can provide the knowledge for classroom management in the public school system. One must simply, "Do it". Organizational skills, content knowledge, and enthusiasm are a MUST in education. But if a teacher cannot manage the students, all the education in the world is a moot issue.

Based on my experience, most teachers who do not remain in the schools just simply cannot connect with classroom management. In many cases, one child can easily disrupt an entire class setting (if the teacher allows it). Managing children is an aquired SKILL, and a mentoring program is a wonderful plan. There are so many good habits to be shared by successful, seasoned teachers.

My school has been fortunate in having Principals who fully support rookie teachers, but I personally know there are some in-school administrators elsewhere who leave their staff dangling and do not properly intercede in matters of unruly children.

Joslyn, good luck with your mentoring program.

avidreader 07/24/12 - 10:34 am
To Lynn

Once again, thanks for being you! It's very refreshing to read your positive comments.

Reverie 07/27/12 - 08:32 am
On the one hand, you have an

On the one hand, you have an active recruitment and retention program, and on the other hand, you have principals boastful (i.e. Frazier) about chasing teachers out of the school. Hmmm.

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