AmeriCorps Grant Allows Expansion of Educator Mentor Corps

September 28, 2011

Wheelock College has received an AmeriCorps grant that will help expand a Greater Boston-based teacher mentor program piloted by the college. The $140,000 grant enables Wheelock to further develop the Educator Mentor Corps (EMC), a program that strives to improve teacher retention by connecting urban school teachers to skilled retired educator mentors.

The funding will allow Wheelock to recruit and train around 40 retired teachers to act as mentors to serve as many as 50 K-12 teachers per year in Boston and Chelsea. Wheelock will work in collaboration with the Boston Public Schools, Chelsea Public Schools, ReadBoston, WriteBoston, the Mass Service Alliance, and other partners to place mentors with teachers in schools.

The national trend in urban schools has been that nearly half of new teachers leave the classroom within their first three years. In addition, as Baby-Boomer teachers "age up," schools will face a wave of teacher retirement. In Massachusetts, approximately 19,000 veteran teachers are projected to retire over the next 9-10 years. These trends present school districts with both a human resource challenge and an instructional quality challenge: the loss of veteran teachers paired with high turnover of new teachers diminishes the number of competent educators, and thus the teaching quality in schools.

Wheelock's EMC program seeks to address this issue by offering support to new teachers by connecting them with seasoned veterans—in other words, connecting the two trends of retirement and attrition to lead to a more positive outcome.

Over the past two years, Wheelock has worked with the Boston Public Schools to pilot the EMC program and align this effort with district induction and mentoring policies and programs. For example, EMC mentors work only with teachers who are not receiving support from BPS's New Teacher Developer program.

To date, Wheelock and BPS have successfully recruited and placed 14 retired educators to mentor 16 novice teachers. The AmeriCorps grant will support the program for a year and can be extended up to three years.

The grant was attained by Wheelock College's Aspire Institute. Founded in 2007, the Aspire Institute seeks to advance knowledge and innovative solutions to address social and education challenges.

Learn more about Aspire institute at Wheelock College.

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