Danville school district develops new program to help retain teachers

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 2021

New teachers in the Danville School district will be getting lots of support and love this upcoming school year through the Admiral Ambassador Program which started last week. The year-long program is being implemented in hopes of retaining good teachers in the district.

Assistant Superintendent Sheri Satterly explained, “The Admiral Ambassador Program is a new hire mentoring and induction program. All new hires to the Danville district, regardless of years of teaching experience, will participate in the induction piece of the program, which runs from August through May.” She added, “First year and second year teachers will also have a teacher mentor, as well as individuals who have moved into new roles for the 21-22 school year.”

“I believe having a structure in place to support our new hires and those who are new to the teaching profession will help us to retain quality educators in the sense that it supports the new teachers and helps them to feel a part of the district. Not only will this help them to feel welcome in their respective schools, but instill a sense of what it means to be a Danville Admiral.”

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Satterly said there is a teacher shortage in Kentucky, as well as across the nation. But Danville’s retention rate hasn’t changed much over the past few years. “It has stayed pretty close to the state average.” However, every district’s turnover rate that’s reported in the Kentucky School Report Card also includes teachers who move to a new position or move to a leadership role in the same district, she said.

In 2017 there were a total of 18 resignations; the 2018-19 school year had 15 resignations; the 2019-20 school year saw 13 resignations and the 2020-21 school year there were a total of 15 resignations, according to data from the DISD central office,

“Teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates, and we want to do everything we can to keep good people in our district. I was once told and asked, ‘this is a lot for your teachers to have to do, how are you going to love on them?’. This program is a way of ensuring that our teachers are developing those collegial and personal relationships that make them love the profession and want to stay, especially if it means they stay in the Danville district.”

Satterly added that the district wants to provide a high level of support to the new teachers “to make them not feel so overwhelmed.” She added, “Education is changing everyday, and the demands seem to only get harder. If we can create a system of support for ALL of our teachers, we hope to lessen the load a little. Not only is this process important for the new teachers and new hires, it is equally as important for their experienced mentors. We envision this being a learning experience and a growth process for all involved.”

“In my opinion, the biggest highlight is that the program provides yearlong support. We have already had our first 3 days of induction that included items such as The First Days of School, Co-Teaching Basics, 1:1 Technology Basics, Overview of the Certified Evaluation Plan, and introduction to all administrators, etc. Those three days culminated with a tour of each school building and the community from which our students come.”

Also, “Throughout the school year, we will be focusing on curriculum, instruction, assessment, technology, developing positive relationships with families, and preparing our classrooms for accountability,” Satterly explained.

About 16 experienced teachers volunteered to work as a team to develop the Admiral Ambassador Program. “Those teachers were placed on that focus team because they have a heart for this work. All levels were represented: elementary, middle, and high school, as well as having classroom teachers, special education teachers, library media specialists, instructional coaches, among others. We also have already secured mentors for all of our new teachers, which says a lot.”

Satterly added, “There have always been attempts at providing new teachers with the support they need and want, but more at the school level than the district level. In this way, we can foster that sense of family and community across school buildings. We are very excited about the opportunity for relationships to be fostered through this program and for that thing we call ‘Admiral Pride’ to be evident across our entire district.”