PHOENIX – Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) today announced $2.5 million in support of the Arizona K12 Center’s Arizona New Teacher Support Program. This program builds a foundation of induction and mentoring by providing dedicated and trained instructional mentors for new teachers during their first three years in the classroom. In addition, new teachers in the program take part in professional learning opportunities specifically for their career stage. ADE’s investment using federal relief and recovery dollars will expand capacity of the program from seven districts up to 22 individual schools, districts, or departments, funding all applications received this year that meet the established criteria.
Induction and mentoring programs for new educators have a profound impact on recruitment, educator effectiveness, and retention. An experienced educator can help guide a new educator not only in the act of teaching students but also in learning the day-to-day of the profession not taught in a degree program. The most effective mentoring and induction programs are comprehensive, consistent, and offer ongoing professional learning.
“For too long, Arizona students have paid the price for our teacher shortage crisis, not because we lack the talent, but because too many exceptional teachers have burned out from overcrowded classrooms, non-competitive pay, and a lack of essential resources,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “Some of the best investments we can make in solving our teacher shortage are in proven recruitment and retention strategies like mentorship programs. I’m pleased to partner with the Arizona K12 Center so they can expand capacity to more districts, including rural and remote districts.”
After a school year full of additional challenges, ADE and the Arizona K12 Center recognize the need to support beginning teachers now more than ever. Research shows that with support and collaboration for and among educators, retention rates increase. Educators need a collaborative culture where they feel supported by their colleagues and can call upon a large network of other professionals for advice, ideas, and camaraderie.
The Arizona K12 Center will provide comprehensive and ongoing standards-based training for mentors at each participating site. These full-time mentors will serve as instructional coaches who will support a new teacher’s growth through coaching, reflection, and inquiry. These teachers just entering their career will have a mentor in their classrooms for at least two hours a week while teaching and learning are happening.
Arizona K12 Center Executive Director Kathy Wiebke noted that the Arizona New Teacher Support Program participants include a variety of programs, schools and districts across the state.
“We are thrilled for this additional funding to expand the support we can provide for school districts throughout Arizona. This funding will more than double the impact of this program and allow us to reach some of Arizona’s most rural school districts,” Wiebke said. “It is our vision that these new teachers will see themselves as effective and find the joy in teaching we all experienced.”
A part of Northern Arizona University, the Arizona K12 Center provides professional learning opportunities for Arizona teachers across the teaching continuum but has identified the particular need for stronger beginning teacher support.
“The Arizona K12 Center is a wonderful resource for the NAU College of Education, and for teachers who graduate from NAU as they enter their teaching careers and beyond,” said NAU President Rita Hartung Cheng. “We have a long history of preparing teachers, having been founded as a teachers college. As the need for teachers grows in the state, the rich support given by the Arizona K12 Center through its many programs – including mentoring – has been critical to the success of both our K-12 classroom teachers and the students they serve.”
The participants in the 2021-2023 Arizona New Teacher Support Program include:
- Alhambra Elementary School District
- Amphitheater Public Schools
- Balsz School District
- Bisbee Unified School District
- Cartwright Elementary School District
- Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District
- Deer Valley Unified School District
- Harvest Preparatory Academy
- Isaac Elementary School District
- Lake Havasu Unified School District
- Maricopa Unified School District
- Mesa Public Schools (Special Education Program)
- Mesa Public Schools
- Mohave Valley Elementary School District
- Pendergast Elementary School District
- Round Valley Unified School District
- Sierra Vista Unified School District
- Scottsdale Unified School District
- Tolleson Elementary School District
- Tolleson Union High School District
- Wilson Elementary School District
The Arizona K12 Center’s mentor training and beginning teacher support events are available to all Arizona teachers. Learn more about those offerings at azk12.org/mentoring-and-coaching/overview and register for specific events at azk12.org/events