The importance of mentors

A major concern in education today is the shortage of teachers at K-12. Thousands of veteran teachers are retiring. Almost half of new teachers of all teachers who now enter the field leave it within five years.

Both the anecdotal reports of new teachers and research indicate that those who are formally mentored are more likely to stay in teaching and to say that their teaching has improved.

Those of us involved in scholastic journalism share a concern about the quality of journalism education. Outstanding advisers are retiring, and new advisers mirror those national statistics about teacher turnover.

The Journalism Education Association established a Mentoring Committee in July 2008 and pledged $90,000 over three years to fund a national mentoring program. Five states were selected to begin the mentoring program – Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin. Each state qualified by recruiting two mentors and finding funding to pay stipends for the mentors.

JEA members Linda Barrington, Nick Ferentinos, Peggy Gregory and Steve O’Donoghue, and I developed the proposal for the mentoring program and presented it to the JEA Board. How exciting to see an important initiative more from a good idea to a funded program so quickly!

You can learn more about the JEA Mentoring Program at http://jea.org/resources/mentorprogram

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