One-on-one resource for teachers
Woodburn School District Superintendent Joe Morelock imparted earlier this month the district's use of supplementary support staff to cultivate learning in its classroom communities.
Morelock focused on new teacher mentors and instructional coaches; mentors work with young (first and second-year) teachers, while coaches work with more experienced staff. The superintendent said he plans to highlight the support staff in his weekly newsletter, and he began with several members: elementary mentors Serge Lopez and Tim Montgomery and secondary mentor Marilyn McCully.
A 21-year education veteran, including 7 years as a mentor, Lopez describes his heritage as Salvadoran-American and he mentors teachers at all the district's elementary schools.
"Mentoring is a very crucial, complex and multidimensional process. It consists of guiding, teaching, influencing and supporting beginning teachers," Lopez said. "Often I'm the person that can help them find the answers to their questions. I help accelerate their professional growth by observing them, providing feedback, resources, modeling and guidance."
He said he takes personal delight in helping teachers accelerate their professional growth, and the topics of his guidance can range from classroom management to using technology in the classroom.
McCully has worked in education for 29 years, including 11 in Woodburn, and is entering her sixth year as a mentor.
"At the beginning of the school year, I am mostly helping new teachers get ready for the first month of school," McCully said. "I spend a lot of time helping them think about what structures and procedures they will want to implement from the first day of school and most importantly, how they will build relationships with their students.
"I will visit all of my new teachers at least once during the first two weeks of school and most of them will see me two or three times," she added. "Once everyone is settled, I will begin a routine where I will visit and watch the teacher teach, so I can give feedback, and I will also visit with them during prep to discuss how things are going and offer suggestions."
McCully said the advise she offers can range from teaching and organizing with equity to dealing with difficult behavior and speaking with parents.
Montgomery taught special education at French Prairie for seven years. He said he enjoyed building solid relationships with students and making good family connections. As a mentor he currently works with 13 teachers.
He said the work varies from day to day.
"Typically, I meet with teachers in special education who range from elementary to high school and from resource to self-contained," Montgomery said. "I generally work on paperwork and compliance issues with them. I can facilitate meetings for them to show them how to run IEPs, and I can help them create systems to manage their caseload.
"I also do everything from helping with instruction to providing advice in any given situation," he added. "Serving students is a wonderful role, and not an easy one. However, I do love my current position and hope that my help is valuable to the teachers and students that I serve."
Morelock is pleased to have the support resources available in the district.
"Seeing staff work with students to set up classroom routines, create community agreements, and begin their learning journey is always an exciting sight," the superintendent said.
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