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New Teacher Orientation Takes Place in the Ken-Ton School District |

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New Teacher Orientation Takes Place in the Ken-Ton School District

When current Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro reflects on his first day working in education as an English Teacher in South Houston, Texas, he distinctly remembers the numerous challenges and concerns of stepping into the classroom for the first time in the 1970’s.

“We were pretty much on our own.  Back then there was very little support for those of us who were teaching for the first time.  It was sink or swim.  It would have been great to be supported by staff and the administration, because being new to the teaching profession, we needed the help,” said Mondanaro, who shared this story with 30 new educators during their “New Teacher Orientation” training program, held at the District’s Sheridan Building on Elmwood Avenue.

The four-day orientation for new teachers, teacher assistants, psychologists, and counselors provides the kind of support for new employees that Mondanaro wished were available decades ago.  The first day of orientation featured a “meet and greet” session with the Superintendent, Board of Education President Bob Dana, District Administrators, Assistant Principals, and Principals.

“As a new educator you will face many challenges, and we will be there for you, to assist you in every step of the way.  We believe in our mission and will support you.  This administration provides great leadership.  You’re in good hands in Ken-Ton,” said Board of Education President Bob Dana.

New teachers, teacher assistants, psychologists, and counselors experienced numerous workshops and information sessions to ease the transition into the classroom.  Those seminars focused on topics such as strong classroom management, parent interaction, lesson preparation, the district’s vision, goal, and core values, maintaining professionalism in the use of rapidly-changing technology, coaching opportunities, special education guidelines, district policies, and human resources.

New teachers were even given a guided tour of district schools and the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda community at-large.

“We provide an important snapshot of our district and community as a whole.  We want to show new teachers ‘this is who we are, these are our values, and this is what it means to teach in the Ken-Ton School District.’  Being a teacher extends far beyond the walls of a classroom and this orientation is a great way to provide our staff with the necessary support to succeed,” said orientation facilitator and current Jefferson Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Robyn Brydalski, who also served in the District’s innovate “Mentor Program.”

The Mentor Program is a critical and key component in providing strong and consistent professional development and support for new teachers.  The District’s Mentor Program started in 1987.  New teachers are assigned professional mentors who provide educational support to new hires.  Mentors are Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District teachers who work full-time in their capacity as mentors and are hired by a nine-member mentor policy review board, made up of district administrators and representatives from the Kenmore Teachers Association.

Throughout the school year mentors meet regularly with new teachers and spend time every week observing their teaching methods in the classroom.  Professional development is enhanced by the mentor who provides support concerning curriculum, lessons, and teaching strategies.  New teachers are then given independent assessments by their mentor and building administrator, and are offered the means necessary to improve upon the assessment if need be.

“I firmly believe we have the best teacher mentor program in the country,” added Mondanaro.

“As a product of the mentor program the level of support in my first year teaching was incredibly helpful.  Being a new teacher you want to succeed but sometimes you don’t have all of the answers.  If you fall, there needs to be a strong support system to pick you up.  Our mentor program allows our young educators to focus on being the best teachers they can be, while at the same time providing support for them to acquire new skills,” added Brydalski.

The 30 new teachers, teacher assistants, psychologists, and counselors begin the new year on the first day of school: Tuesday September, 7th, 2010.

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