Meeting with News Teacher Center Executive Director Ellen Moir (third from left) were JEA members Julie Dodd, Nick Ferentinos, Linda Puntney, Peggy Gregory and Steve O'Donoghue.

by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

What’s the best way to structure a journalism mentoring program?

That’s the question we discussed when we explored the possibility of JEA establishing a mentoring program. The issue became more of a reality when the JEA board voted in July 2007 to estbliah the JEA mentoring program.

The New Teacher Center‘s teacher induction program was a model for us. Nick Ferentinos was an outreach consultant for the Center, and Linda Barrington, Peggy Gregory and Steve O’Donoghue all had NTC training in mentoring. All agreed that the program provided a strong framework for a mentor/mentee relationship — going beyond having the informal “ask me if you have a question” mentoring that many of us had when we were new teachers.

The new teacher induction program promoted new teachers not just making it through their first years of teaching but learning to become leaders in their schools and advocates for high expectations for teaching and learning.

We on the JEA Mentoring Committee agreed that we should explore developing an professional connection with the NTC. Toward that end, five of us (see phot0) attended the NTC Symposium in San Jose, Calif., in February 2008. We attended sessions, talked to mentors and administrators in other school districts, met with our Yellow Chair funder, and spent hours talking within our group about the NTC programs and our own JEA mentoring program.

We met with NTC executive director Ellen Moir and associate director Janet Gless and discussed our program and how we could connect with the NTC programming.

Brainstorming activity from the NTC Symposium

We gained many useful ideas and learned about the efforts being made by school districts throughout the country to provide a formal process of “inducting” teachers into the classroom, the school and the school district.

Attending the Symposium also made us realize that we were a unique program. Everyone else there was working for a school district — and often a big school district, like Houston or Miami-Dade. Everyone who was involved in the school district mentoring program was doing so as part of his/her job. Most programs had full-time administrators for the mentoring program in addition to the mentors, many of whom were relieved of their classroom teaching duties to mentor full-time.

Many of the NTC goals, tools and proceeses just wouldn’t work for a small privately funded program like the JEA mentoring program. But some aspects would. So we were able to develop a relationship to adapt and use some of the mentoring tools and establish a connection with the NTC.

Nick attended the NTC Symposium held earlier this month and will be sharing some of his observations in our blog.