Bill Gates once said, “Students deserve great teachers. And teachers deserve the support they need to become great.”
Mentorship is crucial in the early years of teaching. This process lets teachers have reflective conversations and share effective instructional strategies. The end result is a powerful partnership that helps to shape and grow new Kentucky teachers.
For the past 34 years, new teachers across the Commonwealth of Kentucky have been mentored through the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program. Due to budgetary constraints and a lack of funding, this valuable program was suspended this year. With the absence of a statewide teacher internship program, new teachers have had to individually seek out support during their early years of teaching.
Fortunately a new initiative has been developed to support, connect and mentor new Kentucky teachers.
KY SENT (Supporting and Elevating New Teachers) is an initiative developed by a group of Kentucky Hope Street Fellows. With a recently launched KY SENT website and Twitter account, the initiative offers new teachers a variety of personalized resources to elevate and educate them, all the while connecting them to educational support agencies across the state. It was developed by teachers and is for new teachers who are in their first five years of instruction.
One prominent feature of KY SENT is the virtual engagement sessions. Twice monthly, highly-qualified educators offer free online professional learning sessions. New teachers can register for these sessions on the KY SENT website. School districts may opt for these sessions to count for professional learning credit.
Additionally, KY SENT offers mentoring for new teachers based on their educational cooperative region. New teachers are connected to a mentoring teacher in their area who is able to provide instructional support and encouragement. This voluntary collaboration is a great opportunity for veteran teachers to reignite their own passion for teaching and learning, build leadership capacity and grow new teachers across the Commonwealth.
Lastly, new teachers can post questions confidentially and get additional resources from coaches on the KY SENT website. The coaches are there to support and offer advice in an effort to promote continuous learning for new teachers.
The KY SENT website was established as a support structure for both new teachers and school districts. Districts may use the site within their own mentoring plans. The end result is a gateway of professional learning and growth for new teachers. Kentucky teachers will grow their own new teachers and Kentucky students will be the beneficiaries. Across the Bluegrass State, students deserve great teachers and great teachers deserve boundless support.
Dana Lee Thomas is an elementary instructional coach in the Marion County Public School District. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Campbellsville University. She is a recertified National Board Teacher and current Kentucky Hope Street Teacher Fellow.