District’s tenured teachers are ‘paying it forward’

Published 9:52 am Friday, August 14, 2009

Jill Rollie, an eighth grade special education teacher at Ellis Middle School, said mentoring a new teacher is a way for her to “pay it forward.”

“I had a lot of support from fellow teachers and administration,” said Rollie, who is entering her seventh year in Austin and began her career at Lyle.

“I know how crucial that is.”

Email newsletter signup

About 25 tenured (three years or more) teachers in the Austin Public School District went through mentorship training Thursday at Austin High School. More than 30 staff have applied to become mentors for the 30 new teachers; “extras” will utilize the training another year, or mentor teachers hired mid-year.

Lori Bird, director for the Center for Mentorship and Induction at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a former teacher in Owatonna, headed the training. Although the district has had a mentoring program for several years, this is the first time it has utilized a trainer.

“We are talking about how we can support the new teachers coming to Austin this year,” said Bird, who explained they often use the word “incultureate” when talking about the building acclamation process. Teachers new to the profession will also receive specific training.

“It really takes some time to learn how to teach,” Bird said. “We really say learning to teach is a lifelong process.

“Even teachers who many have experience somewhere else, coming to Austin, may have their own needs,” she said.

New teachers at Austin Public Schools for 2009-2010

Jennifer Compton, speech language pathologist

Deborah Cook, grade 5 teacher at Sumner Elementary

Bonnie Erickson, speech language pathologist

Laura Eyre, early childhood special education teacher at Community Learning Center

David Eyre, special ed teacher at Austin High School

Leanne Greenquist, special ed teacher at AHS

Kristine Hoppe, speech language pathologist

Garrett Jensen, kindergarten teacher at Woodson Kindergarten Center

Sara Kirsch, special ed teacher at Southgate Elementary

Janet Krinke, special ed teacher at Neveln Elementary

Levon Larson, language arts teacher at AHS

Tracy Lermon, special ed teacher at Sumner Elementary

Heather Linquist, special ed teacher at AHS Bank School

Ashley McLaren, mathematics teacher at Ellis Middle School

Christopher Napton, school psychologist

Evelyn Napton, special ed teacher at Southgate

Brandon Neseth, student teacher for social studies at AHS

Megan Olsen, special ed teacher at Ellis

Clara Orduz, special ed teacher at Southgate and Woodson

Jennifer Paul, special ed teacher at Sumner

Mark Poppe, graphics teacher at Ellis

Shelly Power, Spanish teacher at AHS

Gene Schott, orchestra teacher at AHS

Ryan Stanley, industrial arts teacher at AHS

Antonino Tarara, band teacher at Ellis

Jaclyn Ternus, school psychologist

Molly Thatcher, school psychologist

Sarah Vogel, grade 3 teacher at Banfield Elementary

Nicole Wermager, special ed teacher at Southgate

Aaron Wojahn, math teacher at AHS

Bird said some of the biggest challenges teachers new to the profession face include meeting all learners’ needs, organizing paperwork, and classroom and time management.

“Teaching is not an 8 to 3 job,” she explained. “Many teachers work 12-hour days, coming in on weekends.”

Mentor Brian Schoen, who teachers eighth grade special education at Ellis, said he applied for the program to “support new teachers.”

Schoen said he believes it is important for new teachers to have that “go-to person” who they can talk to if they have problems.

State funding is not available for the mentoring training, Bird said; however, many districts are “attempting to implement programs.”

“This is a sound decision the district is making,” Bird said.

The 2009-2010 school year begins Tuesday, Sept. 8.