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Thursday, November 06, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Mentors to aid novice teachers

By Tan Vinh
Seattle Times staff reporter

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The University of Washington plans to create one of the most extensive teacher-preparation programs in the country by tracking and offering guidance to its education master's-degree graduates during their first two years of teaching.

Mentors will be assigned and a network of faculty members, veteran teachers and principals will be created to advise and even supervise the recent graduates in their new teaching jobs, UW officials said.

Those services will be made available with help from the Carnegie Corp., of New York, which recently announced it would give the UW's College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences one of its prestigious, $5 million "Teachers for a New Era" grants.

After looking at about 1,300 teacher-certification programs, Carnegie invited the UW to apply for the grant, said Dan Fallan, chairman of the foundation's education division.

The funding is intended to help stem the exodus of young teachers from the profession, one of the state public-school system's most pressing problems, said Patricia Wasley, dean of the UW College of Education.

According to the state Professional Educator Standards Board, about 11 percent of Washington teachers quit after only one year in the classroom.

UW officials think that with monitoring and supervision for their recent graduates, the transition will be easier for rookie teachers, who often are assigned to the worst schools or lowest-achieving students.

For many new teachers, "that first year is about survival, about making it from day to day," said College of Education professor Bill McDiarmid.

The postgraduate support would be available for all UW students who receive a master's degree in teaching. There are about 180 graduate students enrolled in the five-quarter program. The UW does not offer an undergraduate degree in education at its Seattle campus.

Administrators are still working out details and a schedule for the program. But one service agreed upon is online support that will, for instance, connect a first-year math teacher with UW math professors and veteran math teachers to provide feedback on curriculum development or teaching methods.

Part of the grant will be used to add more team-taught courses with college faculty and classroom teachers, Wasley said. For instance, a course might include a math professor lecturing on math theories, an education professor suggesting ways to teach complicated equations to children, and a veteran math teacher sharing firsthand experiences.Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or

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