Local News

School Officials Alarmed by Loss of Teachers

Posted December 5, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— Officials say it's an alarming trend and it's a loss state schools can't afford. One of every five first-year teachers in North Carolina quits and never returns to a classroom.

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

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

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

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

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

In the Model New Teacher Orientation Program, Little and Jennifer Clayton were paired. As an experienced teacher, she is guiding him through his initial growth. Clayton is more than just a sounding board, she also observes and gives feedback and advice. She takes notes and has daily 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 next year.

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