The Caswell County Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Monday, March 11. Student-sports teams were recognized; as was a former teacher; and continuing the use of teacher-mentors was unanimously approved.
“Our beginning teachers are getting real quality, strong support. We’re getting a lot of good feedback and we feel that what’s in place is helping. So, if we can continue along, we may see a whole lot more improvement and growth,” said Nicole McGhee, Caswell County Public Schools Director of Human Resources.
The program is a teacher mentoring effort to not only enhance and support the development of educators but also increase their retention by combating burnout through teamwork and sense of belonging.
Part of what’s called the “UNC System,” the program was formerly of UNC-G but now is based out of East Carolina University. The nickname for the program however remains, “UNC-G.”
Caswell County Public Schools is in its second year of the program and the board was to decide if they were to renew for another two-year commitment.
Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carter said federal dollars pay for the program and Caswell Schools recently was refunded $16,500 due to an overpayment rebate. Instead of the market cost of $4,200 per teacher-mentor, Carter said Caswell qualified for a discounted rate.
Board member Donna Hudson asked if feedback from principals and teachers supports the expense or if in-house mentors could be used.
Carter said currently, each school has a lead teacher that mentors the newest teachers and the UNC-G program would supplement that with brought in teacher-mentors.
McGhee said, “This year we’re fortunate to have six lead mentors, one at each school. In addition, each of the principals have assigned a ‘buddy’ for beginning teachers.”
According to McGhee, lead mentors are there to answer questions from beginning teachers (the phrase used to describe both new teachers and experienced teachers new to Caswell Public Schools), assist with instruction, and help lesson planning.
“Buddies,” she said, help with support and professional development. Buddies may be other people in the teacher’s department, grade level, or section team. Any teacher and not just beginning teachers may receive help from buddies.
McGhee and her team meet monthly with the lead mentors, where they receive feedback and share notes, mentor logs.
In addition to sharing resources, instructional coaches share tactics and techniques. During the monthly reviews, beginning teachers are given time to officially reflect back on what strategies work for them, which are logged and tracked, said McGhee.
“I hope this system we now have in place will help us with retention,” she said.
This is the first year with a lead mentor and second year overall with the mentoring system. An end of year teacher working condition survey is used in part to tell the popularity of the program.
Carter recommended approval. The board unanimously agreed.
In other news, Education Director Carol Boaz said needs-based summer school eligible applicants decreased by 10-percent, indicating an uptick in improvement.
In recognitions, the late Evelyn Farmer Hooper Walker was recognized for her over 30 years of service as an educator, touching the lives of many including former student now education board member Donna Hudson.
Walker was 103.
In other recognitions, Bartlett Yancey High School Boys Wrestling Coach Rick Hill said the school has had regional champions throughout the years, but this year BY had two and its first ever state runner-up.
“Justin Guy, he was amazing. He dominated the tournament until one wrong move kind of caught him, but he was close to becoming state champion instead of state runner-up this year,” said Hill.
Guy was present in the audience, allowed to take time from class to visit the meeting. He stood and the board applauded.
Bartlett Yancey Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Mark Hughes spoke as members of his team, now regional champions, stood behind him.
“This is the first time my guys have won a conference tournament since 1996 and the first time making state playoffs since 2007. It has been a long road and they’ve had to work hard to get there,” said Hughes.
Dillard Girls Basketball Team were named champions for their second consecutive year and would meet the board during lunch.