ESD offers mentoring to new teachers through New Teacher Coaching Initiative

January 23, 2024

Mentors meet with each other.

ESD offers mentoring to new teachers through New Teacher Coaching Initiative

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

The West Shore Educational Service District has launched a mentor program to help guide newer teachers. The New Teacher Coaching Initiative, led by literacy specialist Jaynie Manier, brings retired teachers and new teachers together. The program is for teachers with up to four years experience and includes mentors Debbie Wall, Roxane Schneider, Teresa Rademacher, and Sara Nordlund. The four teachers bring a combined 117 years of teaching experience.

The four mentors work with 42 new teachers who work at school districts within Mason, Oceana and Lake counties.

Manier said this is the first year the WSESD has offered the program.

“This is a voluntary program,” Manier said. “There are 69 teachers within the schools of the ESD who have been in their positions for four years or less and 42 of them signed up to be mentored.”

Wall said the amount of mentoring is determined on an individual basis.

Roxane Schneider, right meets with LHS science teacher Lea Paparella

“In some cases we are mostly observers and offer feedback,” Wall said. “In other cases, they may want help in time management or specific teaching techniques. We are building relationships so they feel they can come to us with any problems they are experiencing in the classroom.”

“We, as retired teachers, know how challenging it can be to be a new teacher,” Schneider said. “You just can’t do this job in isolation.”

Rademacher said she has enjoyed helping newer teachers and the program has also given her a new purpose.

“This is a good program for teachers who are transitioning from a full time teaching role into retirement,” Rademacher said. “We are still active in education. Plus, this team is amazing.”

Ludington High School science teacher Lea Paparella is in her third year of teaching. She said having a mentor has provided her with great feedback.

“It’s having a second pair of eyes in my classroom,” Paparella said about her mentor, Schneider. “Most teachers are harsh on themselves and Roxane is able to provide me with valuable feedback on what I really need to improve on. She’s not here to evaluate but to just help me. It’s super nice.”

Manier said the amount of contact each mentor has with the teachers varies.

“Some communicate by just email while others, most, have the mentors in the classroom. They often will meet during the teacher’s planning times. It’s really building trust and it’s really great that the teachers want to learn from experienced educators.”

The mentor group itself also meets regularly to discuss their experiences and ways they can improve their mentoring.