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New mentorship program helps Aukeem Ballard MAT ’12 and other new teachers stay on the job

September 06, 2012

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    Copyright, Steve Hambuchen
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In 2011-2012, Portland Public Schools saw a nearly a third of its new teachers leave after their first year. That had the biggest impact on low-income and high-minority schools, because that’s where newer teachers are most often placed.

Aukeem Ballard BA ‘11, MAT ‘12, a new teacher at Lane Middle School in Portland, is keenly aware that a little support can go a long way in helping first-year teachers stay on the job. In a recent Portland Tribune article, Ballard talks about brand-new mentorship in the Portland Public School system to support beginning teachers to be successful and improve on the job. The program’s veteran mentors will meet, talk, email, and text new teachers like Ballard as they face challenges ranging from classroom management to curriculum and assessment. 

It won’t be the first time Ballard has worked with a mentor. As graduate student on the path to becoming a middle-level/high school social studies teacher, Ballard—like all graduate teaching students at Lewis & Clark—spent an entire school year working in a Portland-area classroom under the guidance of an expert teacher.

Ballard was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color, which helped fund his masters in teaching degree program at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. The fellowship aims to counteract the disparity between students and teachers of color in public schools. Within a decade the percentage of teachers of color is expected to fall to an all-time low of five percent of the total teacher force, while the percentage of students of color in the K-12 system will likely near 50 percent.

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