News 2013: Training the best teachers to train better teachers: UMass Dartmouth

News 2013: Training the best teachers to train better teachers: UMass Dartmouth
Training the best teachers to train better teachers: UMass Dartmouth

Project SUCCESS program training 150+ mentors, retain new teachers in "high-need" areas

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Center for University, School, and Community Partnerships (CUSP) is training some of the state's top teachers to mentor their colleagues in "high-need" areas like special education, English as a Second Language, science and math. 

Now in its second year, CUSP's "Project SUCCESS" is designed to help school districts retain new teachers while increasing skill levels through best practices. 

"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 three regional site locations in Taunton, Marlboro, and Chicopee. 

Participants at the end of the program shared these thoughts: 

"This course offered practical ideas that I could use immediately with my new teacher." 

"The program provided me with current readings and research to enhance my understanding of mentoring and induction." 

"Working with my colleagues helped me grow as a teacher leader." 

At the end of the program, successful Lead Mentors 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, an on-line community where they are 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. 

Last year cohort 1 included 60 mentors hailing from 21 school districts and this year cohort 2 includes 153 Lead Mentors from over 50 districts across the Commonwealth. 

More about Project SUCCESS 
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. 

For more information about this program and photos of cohort 1 completers go to and click on Project SUCCESS Mentoring in Action Academy.