Success Builders: Count On Me Teacher Mentorship

Success Builders: The "Count On Me" Mentorship Program
Posted on 09/23/2016
Sherry Crawford and Courtney Vaughan

Throughout the 2016-2017 year, we will be turning the spotlight on “Success Builders” in our school district. Each article in the “Success Builders” series will focus on programs and people who are creating new ways to help our students meet the Profile of the 21st Century Graduate.

Healthy, supportive relationships between teachers are essential to building a successful culture in our schools. SDPC is intentional about creating these relationships through
Count On Me, our teacher mentorship program.


"Each first year teacher is assigned a mentor before the school year begins; the goal is for the mentor to be someone at the same grade-level, and teaching the same subject, if possible," said Danny Rogers, Coordinator of Personnel Services.


"The mentor serves several roles. One is to help with lesson planning, to serve as a resource. Another is to provide advice and guidance on classroom management. We really want the mentor to be the go-to person for any questions the new teacher may have." Mentors are expected to meet at least once a week with their mentee, and to occasionally observe the new teacher in the classroom.


The key to a successful mentorship is trust.


"The most valuable thing was getting to work with someone who had more experience, and who is not intimidating, who just wanted to help," said Sherry Crawford, a third year teacher at Ambler Elementary who recently completed her induction program with the help of her mentor, Courtney Vaughan, who has 12 years of teaching experience. Crawford began to receive mentoring from Vaughan after switching from K4 to 1st grade in her second year of teaching. 


Vaughan, who is the Reading Coach at Ambler Elementary, worked closely with Crawford to help her with differentiated reading instruction, which involves carefully tailoring reading instruction to each student's individual reading level.


"They don't teach you how to do it in college, so you walk out of school not knowing how to do it, and it's not hard, someone just has to show you," Vaughan said. "I think it was amazing to see how far Sherry's kids came along." Now both teachers have advice for young teachers coming through the mentorship program. "I would tell them to realize that it's okay to change things throughout the year. Everything isn't going to be perfect, but it's okay to be flexible and it's okay to ask for help. Don't be afraid to take advice from more experienced teachers," Crawford said. Vaughan added, "It's so important to feel like you're in a safe environment without being judged to try new things."


"Part of what helps build that trusting relationship is the fact that the mentor is never the evaluator; she is the coach," Rogers said.  He said that ultimately, the beneficiaries of an effective mentoring program are not only the teachers, but also the students.


"When we develop effective teachers, and create the relationships that make them want to stay in Pickens County, our students reap the rewards," he said.