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State grants support local innovation in educator mentoring programs

Districts and schools across Delaware are providing better and more customized support for novice educators through enhanced mentoring programs with the support of state grants. 

Donna Hall, who oversees the educator mentoring program for the Woodbridge School District, said Woodbridge’s partnership with Laurel this year through a shared state grant has allowed both districts to improve their communication networks with teachers using an online platform.

“The PD360 platform allows our teachers to have communication access 24/7 to their mentoring goals and requirements. This program opens up a line of communication for more assistance and advice throughout both districts through videos, courses and a virtual Professional Learning Community environment,” Hall said. “The support from the grant has been an invaluable resource to our induction program."

Over the past two years, the Delaware Department of Education’s Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit as provided more than $390,000 in competitive grant funding to districts, which have used the money to innovate in the realm of educator induction.

“By providing comprehensive support to new educators, the state and schools are working together to increase educator retention rates, improve teaching practices of novice and experienced staff members and, most importantly, positively affect student achievement,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said.

Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year, the Delaware Department of Education established the Comprehensive Induction Program (CIP) Grant. Districts and charter schools submit proposals to the DDOE to receive funding for the development and/or delivery of innovative induction program models for new educators. The purpose of the CIP is to provide new educators with the support necessary to become familiar with school and district policies and procedures, hone their professional skills, help them evaluate and reflect upon their own professional performance and develop an individualized growth plan to improve their effectiveness. The third round of grant applications launched last month with applications due March 27.

Historically, the Delaware New Educator Mentoring and Induction Program was governed by state regulation and implemented at the state level with a standardized approach. This approach was piloted in 1994-1995 in three school districts. The state redesigned it in 2003 to better meet the needs of new educators based on feedback from the field. 

The state grants, provided to local districts and, in some cases, charter schools, directly address the differences in mentoring and induction for novice educators based on grade-level, subject-area, local curricula, individualized student achievement goals, and other local considerations such as district size, geography and school demographics.

Colonial Superintendent D. Dusty Blakey said his district has used its grant as it works toward its goal to develop a mentoring program that integrates technology to meet the needs of its novice teachers.

“It is important for the district to model what we expect to see in our classrooms in today’s blended world. Most importantly, we believe that we have developed a program that offers a variety of options while focusing on the diverse needs of our teachers by creating personalized support in an environment that supports an anytime/anywhere approach to learning,” he said.

Previous Comprehensive Induction Program Grant winners

2013

Caesar Rodney       $45,435

Indian River            $18,180

Colonial                  $41,546

Sussex Tech           $29,732

Christina                 $14,751

Woodbridge            $36,622

2014

Capital                    $45,708

Caesar Rodney       $19,000

Cape Henlopen       $29,150

Colonial                  $49,000

EastSide Charter     $21,524

Woodbridge/Laurel  $37,540

POLYTECH                 $2,103

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4000