Worthington News

New teachers matched with mentors, per state mandate


When Joy Nieto was a first-year teacher in the 1990s, her mentor went over the basics: how to count books, how to make copies, etc.

Two decades later, those basics would not begin to cover the material, counseling and support provided to beginning teachers through the Ohio Resident Educator program.

Run by veteran Worthington educator Connie Ball, the local version of the state-mandated program matches every new teacher with an experienced teacher.

The new teacher and mentor might spend hundreds of hours together over four years.

The mentors not only teach the basics, but they also are there to encourage, support, counsel and inspire, according to new teachers and experienced mentors.

Though Worthington has offered some form of teacher mentoring for years, the new program is a state requirement to receive a five-year teaching license.

Previously, a new teacher in Ohio was given a two-year provisional license. To receive a professional license, the teacher was required to complete a one-year mentor program and pass an exam called the Praxis III.

The new four-year program is in its third year in Worthington. Forty-four teachers are in the first year of the program; 36 are in the second year; and 30 are in the third year.

Mentors are chosen by principals and undergo extensive training prior to being assigned to a new teacher.

The mentor-teacher experience is reciprocal, said Paul Pflieger, a mentor at Thomas Worthington High School.

"As much as I'm mentoring them, they're helping me as well," he said.

The mentoring program should not only help create better teachers but also more satisfied ones, Superintendent Thomas Tucker said.

The statistics covering new teachers are grim, he said. More than 20 percent quit the profession within the first three years.

"If asked why they leave, they say they are not supported," he said.