The next generation of public school teachers depends on the quality — and the availability — of mentor teachers who will show them the way. Wilmington University (WilmU) has joined two local school districts, three other teaching colleges, and the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) in an effort to ensure that today’s student teachers have role models to follow as they enter and become the future of education.
For the rest of this year, the Delaware Mentor Collaborative will develop new and effective approaches for recruiting, training, and retaining working educators as hosts for student teachers, particularly in year-long residency teacher preparation programs.
In addition to WilmU, the Collaborative’s participants include the Red Clay and Colonial School Districts, Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, the Relay Graduate School of Education, the Rodel Foundation, and officials from the DDOE.
The Collaborative is working with grant funding and guidance from US PREP (University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation), a nationwide coalition of college education departments on a mission to serve and support teacher training programs.
“A more unified approach toward identifying and selecting mentor teachers will come out of this process,” says WilmU assistant professor Tyler Wells, who oversees the College of Education’s year-long student teaching program. “But there are other initiatives the group will be working on as well. Teacher academy pipelines to residency, increasing the diversity of enrollment in teacher preparation, and the sustainability of residency programs.”
In the best-case scenario, the Collaborative’s results will be cumulative, say its participants, delivering improvements to the state’s public education workforce, the teachers they’re training, and ultimately the students in their classrooms.
“We are setting the standards that will ensure that every year-long teacher resident in the state of Delaware is supported and taught by a highly qualified mentor teacher,” says Stacie Zdrojewski, student teacher coordinator for the Red Clay School District. “This support will result in a stronger, more professionally satisfied teacher workforce, which will decrease attrition and benefit the students of Delaware.”
Wilmington University’s year-long residency option, an immersive alternative to the traditional 80-day student teaching program, enables College of Education students to spend an entire school year working alongside mentor teachers in select partner schools.
Learn about the year-long teacher residency program.