Helping New Teachers Stay the Course: Growing, Inspiring and Supporting Teachers in Amphitheater Public Schools

Tucson, AZ | Submitted by Amy Sharpe

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Amphitheater Public Schools, which employs approximately 800 teachers, has strived to keep new teachers in the classroom through its mentorship program for the past two decades.

The two-year induction program provides new teachers with effective support and opportunities to become independent problem solvers and thinkers, to increase competence in their practice and to inspire them to continue in the profession.

Curriculum Instruction Support Specialists (CISS) are paired up with first year teachers and meet with them once a week and help them with a variety of tasks. They talk about strategies that are working well in the classroom and things that need improvement. Additionally, new teachers can take advantage of additional trainings, quarterly after school cohort meetings and an online community and blog resources to help them navigate through their first two years of teaching.

The district recognizes the importance to establishing a positive relationship with new teachers over a two year period. When teachers don’t have this additional support, they often go to another position or find another career which can be costly for schools and districts to continue to recruit and train teachers every year.

Unfortunately, the loss of funding has resulted in a reduction of CISS staff members. The district currently has five full-time mentors, which is down from eight last year. School district officials are committed to seeking out avenues of funding for ensuring the mentor program continues. If there are community members interested in funding the mentor program, they can contact Dr. Roseanne Lopez, Chief Academic Officer, Elementary Education at 520-696-5173 or

The district’s new teacher retention rate has shown to be higher than the national average when paired with a mentor. Last year, only five out of 35 new teachers left the classroom after their first year teaching.

Here what these Amphi teachers have to say about the program:

  • The mentoring program has helped me be able to reflect in a way that I would not be able to do by myself. Having a mentor to observe my teaching and give me feedback regarding strengths and opportunities for improvement helps because I get to verbally talk about this information with a seasoned professional. I truly feel as if my mentor has my best interests at heart and is there for me whenever I need her.” – Erin Tollefson (first-year teacher)
  • “Even as a second year teacher, first time in elementary, the mentoring program has been so helpful and such an uplifting experience. With the guidance from my mentor, I feel like my class is evolving and my teaching is evolving in the direction I want it to! I have received so much assistance when needed and truly appreciate all that the mentoring program has offered me.” — Emily LoVerde (second-year teacher)
  • “Having a mentor my first year of teaching has been invaluable. My mentor helps me see my strengths in the classroom, works closely with me on improving my teaching effectiveness and classroom management, and is a great resource when it comes to trying new strategies or teaching methods that have proven successful in other classrooms. I could not feel more support or encouragement from my mentor every time she comes in to my classroom.” – Elizabeth Williams (first-year teacher)

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