2012 2012: UMass Dartmouth leads statewide effort to train top teachers as Lead Mentors

2012 2012: UMass Dartmouth leads statewide effort to train top teachers as Lead Mentors
UMass Dartmouth leads statewide effort to train top teachers as Lead Mentors

Project SUCCESS program to collaborate with 21 Mass. school districts to train mentors, retain new teachers in "high-need" areas

The state has granted a three-year award to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Center for University, School, and Community Partnerships (CUSP) to prepare and support Lead Mentors in school districts across Massachusetts.

CUSP's "Project SUCCESS" acknowledges the importance of skilled, seasoned teachers using their experience to mentor new teachers. By training some of the state's top teachers to effectively mentor their colleagues, Project SUCCESS is designed to help school districts retain new teachers who specialize in "high-need" areas like special education, English as a Second Language, science and math.

"We know that teacher quality is the most important school-related factor in student learning," said CUSP Executive Director Karen O'Connor. "By preparing Lead Mentors to support beginning teachers, Project SUCCESS will build the capacity of beginning teachers to help students to reach their full academic potential."

This comprehensive program prepares Lead Mentors through a nine-month graduate-level course, 15 online video lectures, virtual office hours, live videoconferencing and phone consultations with instructors, and three face-to-face seminars in either Taunton or Marlboro.

At the end of the program, successful Lead Mentors will have the academic knowledge and mentoring skills necessary to mentor new teachers, and train other mentors in their home school districts.

All Lead Mentors who successfully complete the graduate course will be eligible to participate in the Mentoring in Action Massachusetts Academy, to be able to network and share ideas after their preparation year.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) selected CUSP to lead Project SUCCESS with funds from the federal Race to the Top program. Massachusetts was one of 12 states to win Race to the Top funding in a highly competitive process.

"A central goal of the state's successful Race to the Top application was to ensure that every student in every classroom in the Commonwealth is taught by a great teacher," said JC Considine, spokesman for DESE. "Project SUCCESS is focused on improving teacher effectiveness and retaining teachers by providing ongoing support to experienced teachers as they serve as mentor leaders to new teachers."

Project SUCCESS Director Carol Pelletier Radford designed the proposal and partnered with school district superintendents across the Commonwealth to customize training to fit local needs.

Sixty lead mentors are participating this year from 21 school districts across eastern Massachusetts. In years two and three, CUSP plans to expand Project SUCCESS to more than 50 districts and train more than 250 mentors.

The school districts taking part this year are Cambridge, Chelsea, Clinton, Dennis-Yarmouth, Essex Ag-Tech, Danvers, Fall River, Fall River Atlantis Charter School, Hamilton-Wenham, Lexington Minuteman, Millbury, New Bedford Global Learning Charter School, Norton, Old Colony in Rochester, Rockland, Somerville, Sudbury, Truro, Uxbridge, Webster, and Winchendon.

Project SUCCESS stands for School University Collaboration Committed To The Educational Success Of All Students. The goal of the program is to create a quality mentoring culture to strengthen the teaching profession statewide, ensure new teachers receive the support they need in their beginning years, and give Massachusetts students the best instruction possible.