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August 8, 2005

New Teacher Center brings in $1.7 million in new grants

By Jennifer McNulty

The New Teacher Center is on a roll. With positive press and an influx of $1.695 million in new grants in recent weeks, the center is poised to expand its reach as a national leader in the field of teacher preparation.

In a recent column, San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer Louis Freedberg highlighted state programs designed to keep new teachers on the job and working as effectively as possible. The New Teacher Center (NTC) is "regarded as the best of its kind in the nation," wrote Freedberg.

Established in 1998, the NTC has become a national resource for teacher training. The center focuses on improving student performance by increasing teacher retention and effectiveness.

The NTC model of teacher support provides beginning teachers with two years of mentoring by veteran teachers who have been trained as “teachers of teachers.” The infusion of support dramatically reduces new-teacher attrition. NTC collaborates with school districts in more than 30 states and has developed a support program for principals, as well.

California is estimated to need 100,000 new teachers in the next decade to replace those who retire, and investing in the next generation is wise, says NTC director Ellen Moir.

"Typically, nearly half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years, but we're able to retain almost 90 percent," said Moir. "If we can't keep teachers in the classroom, the profession becomes a revolving door, and students in our lowest-performing schools suffer most since new teachers so often teach in the most challenged schools."

Foundations continue to endorse the center's approach, with nearly $1.7 million coming into NTC's coffers recently.

Among the largest grants is a three-year $750,000 award from the Wachovia Foundation that will fund a mentoring program for new teachers in public schools in the District of Columbia. NTC staff will train mentor teachers, who will be recruited to work full-time with approximately 12 new teachers each.

In addition, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has provided a $725,000 grant that will fund the center's work with three of East Palo Alto's lowest-performing elementary and middle schools.

The NTC's training protocols will be further replicated with assistance from the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation. A $55,000 grant from the foundation will support the "training of trainers" in New York City, where the NTC is training 350 mentors who are working with 6,000 new teachers.

A $40,000 grant from Washington Mutual is supporting the NTC's mentor training programs in California and the center's annual national symposium on teacher induction, while $25,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York City is funding a planning grant to better align training in literacy instruction for high school teachers.

Finally, the Rockefeller Foundation has provided $100,000 over two years to document the center's participation in New York City's $36 million initiative to revamp support for new teachers using the NTC mentoring model. The grant will fund the development of policy recommendations based on the lessons learned in New York and will pay for the distribution of those results to district leaders, policy makers, union leaders, university partners, and others.

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