Earlier this month a small group of a dozen people had a graduation ceremony with less pomp but just as much pride and passion as the rest of the Class of 2023.
Late last August all of the new teachers hired at Waterville Central School were enrolled in New Professionals Academy. NPA came about from a similar program WCS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring ran in her previous district.
Each hire, and those who joined later in the fall, received a mentor of another teacher who also taught in their subject matter. For 10 months the teacher students met, did homework assigned by Director of Special Programs Katie Hansen and built a support system with each other.
At their commencement Spring asked each mentor to review the growth of their teacher. The first year/or first year at Waterville teachers talked about what they were proud of, what they thought made WCS special and what they were looking forward to next year.
Back at their first meeting last August all the new hires talked about how excited, and nervous, they were. Nerves are long since tamped down, but the excitement remains.
All of them mentioned the support of their mentors, but also of the rest of the WCS staff. Those who had experience in other districts said that show of support was not seen elsewhere.
It was far from easy. Many of them mentioned the difficulty of learning to manage a classroom, how hard it was to gain the respect and trust of students, and learning to adapt their goals to what the kids were ready to handle.
They, along with their students, learned a lot this year. And contrary to the myth that teachers unplug completely for the summer, this group plans to put in the time so 2023-24 is even better than this year.
Congratulations to all these grads and their mentors for putting in the extra during their first year. Cheers to many more fabulous years of teaching.
*For an added bonus, go to the Waterville Times website (watervilletimes.com) or our Facebook page to see how one teacher juggled everything this year.