Mentors Share Experience; Support with new Teachers

two women use laptop
Josie Prachyl and Debby Johnson. Photo courtesy Duncanville ISD.

Duncanville ISD Teacher Mentor Program

Aspiring teachers fresh out of college accept their first positions and are then turned loose to shape the minds of students everywhere.

Putting those new teaching skills to the test while managing a classroom for the first time can be overwhelming. To make that transition a little easier, Duncanville ISD launched a Teacher Mentor Program, which partners experienced educators with first-year teachers.

“A new teacher has to learn so much in the first few years and I wouldn’t have survived without the support received from the program and by Duncanville staff overall,” said Josie Prachyl, who teaches fourth grade at Alexander Elementary School.

Ms. Prachyl, who is in her second year as a mentee said she has benefitted from the ongoing mentorship and the professional training she’s received from the district.

“The program is terrific,” Ms. Prachyl said. “It makes you feel supported, encouraged, but not overwhelmed.”

Reducing Teacher Turnover Rate

In addition to helping new teachers succeed in their classrooms, the program also benefits the district by reducing the teacher turnover rate. According to the Texas Education Agency, the rate of attrition for first year teachers between 2014 and 2019 averaged around 20 percent. The same study showed that helping teachers through that first year gives districts a better chance at retaining them. Teacher attrition for post first-year teachers between 2014 and 2019 averaged around 16 percent.

“The purpose is to support the induction of new-to-profession teachers; to help them be successful with instruction, to promote student success and reduce teacher turnover in the district,” said Director of Professional Development, Sherri Smith.

By all accounts, the program is already a success. It began in the 2019-2020 school year with 50 mentor teachers and 69 teachers with less than a year of experience. Of those newly hired teachers, 58 decided to continue teaching in Duncanville ISD.

Mentors & Mentees Enjoy The Program

Now, in its second year, the program has grown to 83 mentors and 116 mentees – including Maurice Harris who teaches fourth grade at Merrifield Elementary School.

“I enjoy the mentor program as it has really built camaraderie with my own mentor and other teachers,” said Mr. Harris. “It has given a great opportunity for me to see how a veteran teacher teaches and gain feedback on an array of things from organization to classroom management.”

Alyssa Spencer, Mr. Harris’ mentor said she volunteered to be a mentor because she remembers what it’s like to be a new teacher.

“During this pandemic, I could only imagine the challenges one could face as a first year teacher,” Ms. Spencer said. “Not only as a first year teacher, but for our profession, this school year is beyond normal. I couldn’t imagine allowing a first year teacher to overcome it alone. So we conquer it together.