Public School Forum of North Carolina Launches Beginning Teacher Network

The Public School Forum of North Carolina will launch a Beginning Teacher Network (BTN) in 2015 aimed at retaining and supporting North Carolina public school teachers. The Forum will pilot the BTN in Wake County in the spring of 2015, and operate the program for its first full year in 2015-16, with plans to expand to serve additional counties. The Wake County pilot was made possible by a generous grant from Golden Corral.

“North Carolina loses about 50 percent of our public school teachers within their first five years in the classroom,” said Keith Poston, President and Executive Director, Public School Forum of North Carolina. “With increasing teacher turnover in recent years and declining enrollment at our state’s teacher preparation programs, it is critical we support our teachers at the beginning of their careers, both to help them develop even more quickly into highly effective teachers, and to keep them in the profession long term.”

The concept of the BTN came from Trey Ferguson, a math teacher at Leesville Road High School in Wake County. Mr. Ferguson discovered through his interactions with other early career Wake County teachers that many of his colleagues were looking for additional experiences that would allow them to improve their classroom practices, connect with other educators, and understand and contribute to the development of district and state education policies.

The Beginning Teacher Network will take a three-pronged approach to better retain, support, and accelerate the development of beginning teachers, complementing their existing professional development opportunities. Monthly meetings will consist of face-to-face forums and digital networking in several areas that are crucial to the professional development and casino online satisfaction of new teachers:

  • Education Policy and Advocacy: Teachers participating in the network will gain a baseline understanding of key education policy issues and strategies for engaging in policy debates.
  • Cross-Curricular Collaboration: Through collaboration, teachers will enhance their understanding of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and their specific disciplines.
  • Professional Development: Teachers will strengthen knowledge, develop skills, and learn strategies to improve classroom instruction and student learning.

The BTN is a teacher-led network, with all activities and topics selected by teachers, for teachers. “Through this new network, beginning teachers will work collaboratively to help each other engage with information on educational policy, form their own, unbiased opinions and establish appropriate action to better the teaching profession, directly impacting their students’ learning experiences,” said Mr. Ferguson. “It is my hope the network brings teachers together at a common stage in their career and enriches these pivotal three years of their experience, to set the tone for their current and future impact on public education.”

“I’m excited that the Public School Forum chose Wake County to pilot this program to support our beginning teachers,” said Dr. Jim Merrill, Superintendent, Wake County Public School System. “Like all school systems in North Carolina, our teacher turnover rate is highest in these early years and we believe this new program could be a strong complement to our own efforts to support and develop these teachers as they begin their careers.”

Eligible participants (North Carolina public school teachers in their first three years of experience working in Wake County) will apply to the program by submitting basic information about their teaching experience and level of curricular and instructional support, and submitting a personal statement describing what they hope to achieve by participating in the network. Participants may remain in the network until the end of their third teaching year. For more information or to apply to join the BTN, visit www.ncforum.org/beginning-teacher-network or email BTN@ncforum.org.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina, which will administer the Network, has a long history of developing and leading programs that enable and empower teachers and education leaders, including the NC Teaching Fellows Program, the NC Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), the Institute for Educational Policymakers, and the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP).

The program’s sponsor is Golden Corral. Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, Golden Corral invests in organizations that help ensure high quality educational opportunities, especially for at risk children.

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