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SHSU to Begin Program Aimed
at Mentoring Novice Public School Teachers

Sam Houston State University, along with four other universities that comprise the Texas State University System, will begin a program this summer that aims to aid public school districts in retaining and training first-year teachers.

The Novice Teacher Induction Program (NTIP), which receives its funding from the Houston Endowment Inc., will provide beginning teachers with mentoring support from highly experienced educators who have been employed on a halftime basis to work on-site with novice teachers at their school districts. In return for their services, mentor teachers will receive compensation, which includes a salary and traveling expenses.

Sam Sullivan, professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at Sam Houston State, said his department hopes to identify participating districts and campuses, as well as the projected number of participants, by June 15. Sam Houston State's goal, he said, is to identify 96 novice teachers.

Beginning June 1, SHSU will search for mentor teachers. Selected mentors will undergo training by Sam Houston State education faculty in early August to be prepared to head out to the schools at the beginning of the 2002-03 school year.

Studies have shown that school districts tend to lose teachers during their first year on the job. The program is designed to give novice teachers support and assistance from experienced teachers, which should, in turn, make their job easier and more enjoyable.

"The goal of this program is to increase the retention rate of first-year teachers," said Sullivan. "Novice teachers have been traditionally trained and then turned loose to survive the best way they can. This is an attempt to provide them with a great deal of assistance in making that first year transition easier by working with experienced skilled mentors."

Novice teachers eligible to participate in NTIP are those who are fully certified, are assigned to teach in their field of certification and have less than one year of post-certification teaching experience. They must also be willing to participate in program activities including working with the NTIP mentor on a weekly basis, attend graduate seminars two evenings per month and engage in related professional experiences in conjunction with the graduate seminar and on-site work with mentors.

The novice teachers will not only receive assistance their first year on the job, but will also receive tuition, fees and books for the two NTIP graduate courses. Those who elect to pursue a graduate degree and meet graduate school admissions requirements, will earn six hours graduate credit which can be applied toward a masters degree in education.

Teachers who are in alternative certification programs or are teaching on emergency permits are not eligible because they are involved in their alternative program's preparation activities and already have mentoring support. They will be eligible to participate in a future year of NTIP once they have earned their initial teaching certificates.

Mentors will be employed on a consulting basis for part-time employment on a 10-month calendar. The typical schedule will require the mentor to work approximately 19 hours per week. They will spend two full days a week working in schools mentoring and supporting novice teachers. In addition, each week the mentor will participate in either a mentor seminar or assist in delivery of the graduate course in which participating novice teachers are enrolled.

In the biweekly mentor seminars, participants will learn additional mentoring skills and engage in problem-solving and case review. On alternating weeks, the mentor will co-teach, along with a university faculty member, an evening graduate seminar for novice teachers.

Mentors must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, hold a valid Texas teaching certificate and have at least five years of successful teaching experience at the appropriate school level.

Ideal candidates are those who hold a masters degree and are recently retired educators. They must have extensive knowledge of curriculum, work effectively with students and adults and have a desire to continue making a meaningful contribution to the teaching profession.

Sullivan said Sam Houston State will concentrate on schools located along Interstate 45, namely districts such as Conroe, Willis, Montgomery, Spring, Aldine and others in the area. Huntsville ISD has declined to participate in NTIP, Sullivan said, because it already has a mentoring system in place.

The remaining universities in the Texas State University System - Southwest Texas State, Lamar, Sul Ross State and Angelo State - will also participate in the NTIP.

"This is at this stage an experimental program to assist the public schools in dealing with the teacher shortage as well as teacher retention," said Sullivan. "Given additional attention and assistance, I feel strongly that more teachers will remain in the teaching profession."

- END -

SHSU Media Contact: Brandon Autrey
May 23, 2002
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