The highs and lows of teaching are the only guarantees in a school day. But new Putnam County teachers do not have to navigate them alone.
The program consists of mentor-mentee pairings, which many of the teachers credit as the reason they have stuck with the career.
“[The program] has been absolutely invaluable,” said Jessica Wilson, a middle school teacher in Putnam County. “If you have a district that doesn’t have this program, you can’t expect teachers to want to stick around because it’s a very involved and challenging job.”
Thirteen schools across the county share the four mentors. Each mentor guides anywhere from 30 to 50 novice teachers at a time.
Even though the mentors’ attention is divided, the mentees say they feel like they are the only teacher their mentor is working with.
Having the examples of veteran teachers reminds them why they chose education in the first place, said Shanti Wright, an elementary school teacher in Putnam County.
“Ever since I was younger, I’ve always wanted to [teach],” Wright said. “I do it for the students to help them grow.”
While the mentors are an integral part of the mentees’ success, the teachers often already have the tools to be successful, said Stephanie Smith, a mentor and long-time educator. The mentor encouragement is the extra push they need for confidence in the classroom, she said.
Watching the new teachers grow and thrive in the classroom is the reason Smith said she has dedicated her career to the program.
“The best things are those messages after you’ve given them a suggestion or something to try or you’ve helped them study for a test, and you get the phone call that they passed it,” Smith said.