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Mentoring program for new teachers works to improve retention rates

August 09, 2007

(Portland, Ore.)—For one out of every three new teachers in Oregon, this will be the last fall in the classroom, a problem costing the state an estimated $45 million. Educators who’ve been teaching for less than five years often face insufficient funding, isolation from colleagues and expectations to respond to critical, ever-changing social issues in the classroom with limited professional support.

This spring, the Oregon Legislature passed a new law that will provide funding in the Oregon Department of Education’s budget for mentoring programs designed to address poor retention rates and the mounting challenges teachers face.

The $5 million appropriation will ensure mentorship for approximately 1,000 new teachers or administrators. New Teacher Conversations, the mentorship program implemented by Lewis & Clark Graduate School for Education and Counseling, will be able to offer teachers greater access to support through the new legislation.

“This school year may be the make-or-break year for many new teachers who are feeling frustrated and unsupported,” said Sherri Carreker, director of the Center for Continuing Studies. “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to get our mentoring program into more school districts. We know building these support networks makes the difference between whether a teacher stays in or leaves the profession.”

Now in its third year, the Conversations program works primarily as an adaptable model that builds critical support networks for new teachers by connecting them with seasoned teachers to share their anxieties and problem solve together. Thus far, Lewis & Clark has worked in 17 schools districts from urban, suburban and rural areas.

“We’ve developed a flexible model that addresses the critical needs teachers have expressed—building support, camaraderie, mentorship, guidance—but allows for different formats for each district,” Carreker said.

Two upcoming panel discussions will present information about the mentoring program, featuring insights and perspectives from seasoned and new teachers. One panel discussion will take on August 13 in Corvallis and a second panel will take place in Beaverton on August 21.

For more information about New Teacher Conversations and to watch an interview featuring Conversation participants, visit www.lclark.edu/dept/lcntc.

For more information:

Jodi Heintz
Public Relations Director
503-768-7961
jodih@lclark.edu