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School Officials Alarmed by Loss of Teachers

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RALEIGH — Officials say it's an alarming trend andit's a loss state schools can't afford. Oneof every five first-year teachers in North Carolina quits and neverreturns to a classroom.

Now, there's a new program in place that officials hope will stem theflow of teaching talent away from needy students. It's called the ModelNew Teacher Orientation Program and it provides a boot-camp-styleintroduction along with a mentor to help rookie instructors to get throughthe first year.

The program is being used this year in 34 counties which want to keepthe teachers they've recruited.

Trevor Little is a first-year teacher in a pre-kindergarten class atBailey Elementary School in Nash County.

Assistant Principal Mary Ann Kannan says new teachers come in a do agood job, then they get frustrated.

Little manages children's days andjuggles questions, reports, parents and lesson plans. He says it can bevery overwhelming and that, if he decides to return next year, his mentorwill get much of the credit.

In the Model New Teacher Orientation Program, Little and JenniferClayton were paired. As an experienced teacher, she is guiding him throughhis initial growth. Clayton is more than just a sounding board,she also observes and gives feedback and advice. She takes notes and hasdaily talks with Little. She says they've bonded.

Little says he's fortunate not to have to learn from his mistakes.Rather, he learns before he makes them. And he says he's coming back nextyear.

In the new program, teachers go through a one-week orientation programearly in the year, then are observed and evaluated throughout the schoolyear by principals and master teachers. A state school board reportindicated the program works. It will probably be expanded.

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