WJ teachers mentor new staff

The classroom can be a scary place, not only for first-time students, but for new teachers as well.

Helping novice instructors be successful through their first year is the mission of Jefferson Local School District’s mentoring program led by Paula Nance. The program also assists veteran teachers new to the district.

“Mentoring is required by the State of Ohio,” said Nance during an Aug. 11 presentation to the school board. “Experienced teachers are trained as mentors. It’s a lot of work… This is really high stakes to determine state licensure decisions. We mentor all teachers new to the district.”

The mission of the mentoring program is to provide an effective support system to attract and retain quality, professional staff. Goals include placing a mentor in every building, at every grade level, and/or subject area; meeting and exceeding all state guidelines; and ensuring continuity of the program.

 All mentors are required to be Pathwise trained. They must apply on an annual basis and be employed by the district for at least three years. Interaction with mentees includes attending orientation sessions, establishing a personal/professional relationship, weekly meetings the first nine weeks, regular classroom observations, and completion of meeting logs and a checklist.

“There’s a lot they have to do,” Nance said. “The passage rate for the Praxis test (a teacher assessment) has been very successful. All but one teacher has passed the Praxis III since I’ve been here, and we’ve had some of the highest (passage) numbers.”

In other discussion, building principals reported that the schools are ready for students to return to the classroom. High School Principal Dave Metz told board members the custodial staff is almost done with their beginning-of-the-year activities and the athletic program is already in full swing.

“I’m pretty excited about the year coming up,” said Metz. “The goal at the high school is to maintain our excellence level. We have a small freshman class coming in with 80 to 85 students. We’re ready to go.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by the middle school and Norwood Elementary principals. Technology Coordinator Curt Dennis said 99 new personal computers were installed throughout the district and a clicker response system was installed in buildings. The Internet and cafeteria systems were upgraded and a pair of student workers helped throughout the summer to ready technology for the 2008-09 school year.

 The board hired Shelby, Ohio native and Bowling Green State University graduate Jeffrey Young as a high school computer applications instructor. Metz said Young will also serve as the yearbook advisor and may get involved in the wrestling program.

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