Inside Sampson Middle School’s media center Friday morning, a group of new teachers worked together as a team, with guidance from other educational professionals.
Close to 30 new or fairly new teachers attended the BT (Beginning Teachers) Matters, a program made possible through the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) and the Institute for Emerging Issues out of Raleigh. The purpose of the grant is to provide a lot of support for beginning teachers in their first, second or third year as educators.
During the session, teachers were assisted by mentors. It’s one of several back-to-school activities hosted by Clinton City Schools prior to Monday’s school opening.
Sharnee White, a second teacher at Butler Avenue School, said she was excited about seeing children in her classroom.
“I’m ready,” White said. “I’ve been waiting all summer.”
The third-year teacher enjoys interacting with students. “I love children and I love molding minds,” she said. “I love having that relationship and being able to look back. It’s exciting watching them grow.”
For three years, she has attended the beginning teacher program from Clinton City Schools. The Friday gathering was her first time attending a session hosted by UNCW. She said it was focused on the needs of beginning teachers.
“Sometimes there are things that get overlooked,” White said. “As teachers, we just assume there are things we just know how to do. But as a beginning teacher there are things that you don’t know and you want to learn. It’s necessary.”
Another purpose is to make sure educators stay in the profession.
Claire King, principal of Currituck County Middle School and program evaluator, said about 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within three to five years.
“I would really like to provide them with support for that program,” King said about beginning teachers.
The BT Matters program includes face-to-face interaction and online modules. It’s currently a pilot program with Clinton City Schools.
King believes it’s a way for teachers to receive support from colleagues.
“It gives them the opportunity to come together and receive development specifically designed for challenges, obstacles and things that they’ll continue as beginning teachers,” Kings said.
King hopes it continues statewide.
“There are a lot of challenges that our young teachers have,” King said. “This type of program where they talk face to face and meet online will give them hopefully the support they need to stay in the profession so we can meet the needs of our kids.”
Nancy Dillman, Clinton City’s assistant superintendent for Human Resources and BT supporter, was one of several professionals who assisted the teachers.
“This is to give our beginning teachers support and to enlist the community to make sure we have teacher retention,” Dillman said.
Kayla Kahn is about to begin her second year of teaching. When school begins Monday, she is going to be teaching sixth-grade science at Sampson Middle School.
Like White, she said she was ready for the year to begin. Her love of children, she said, was the catalyst for the profession she chose.
“They can completely turn your day around,” she said “You never know what to expect or what they’re going to say with their different personalities. I love children — that’s why I’m doing it.”