School District U-46 and the Elgin Teachers Association are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Teacher Mentor Program.
In the first 10 years, more than 1,300 new teachers have been paired with more experienced educators. The goal is to provide the support, and help in the development new teachers need to ensure students have the best possible educational experience. New teachers keep a mentor for their first two years in the profession.
"We know that 30 percent of beginning teachers leave the profession during their first two years, and approximately half of all beginning teachers leave the profession within five years," said Bill DuBois. "However, with the proper support and mentoring, we know that new teachers will not only stay in the profession, they will grow professionally."
Denise Pinto, a fourth-grade bilingual teacher at Lowrie Elementary, agrees. "I was drowning in the beginning, and I probably would not have made it through without a mentor," she said.
Pinto started with School District U-46 in 2004 and immediately signed up for the Teacher Mentor Program. Through the program, she met Laura Fukuda, a mentor whom Denise says she could count on and a colleague with whom she could share openly.
Now, four school years later, Pinto has become a mentor to a new teacher at Sheridan Elementary. "After receiving two years of help from my mentor, Im glad to give back to someone else," Pinto said.
In 2002, Jennifer Vincent wrapped up her required student teaching in School District U-46, graduated from college, and signed up to be a full-time …