I was lucky in so many ways with my college education and the job hunt that came at the end of that education. I ended up getting a job at a large (5A) public school in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. This particular district had a week-long new teacher program that was held partially at the district, but mostly on the grounds of your home school. And one of the first things that happened as a new teacher was that you were matched up with a mentor teacher. My mentor teacher was Ms. Stacy. Sarah was a tall blond with a quick smile a down-to-earth personality, and a slightly twisted sense of humor that I was instantly drawn to. She was only a few years older than I, and we had a lot in common.
Sarah was my rock during that first year of teaching. On the days when I questioned whether or not I had wasted the previous five years of school and on the days when I cried, Sarah was there to figuratively hold my hand and get me through….and that crying thing? Yeah, that happened a lot. I'm kind of high-maintenance.
She gave me ideas, taught me about the school culture, taught me how to use (and unjam) the copier, gave me a place to eat lunch, someone to bounce ideas off of, and a shoulder to lean on. She told me how to find (and keep) a good desk chair, steered me away from the negative nellies in our department, and gave me her cell phone number. Sarah is one of the most open and friendly people I have ever met, and for the two years she was at the school with me, she was one of the most consistently hard-working teachers I have ever worked with.
Sarah taught world history and an AP world history class for the first time that year, got engaged, married, and pregnant during those first two years, took care of me and 150 high-maintenance sophomores, and still maintained her poise and grace every single day. The district I am in now does not have a particularly good mentor program and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for those teachers without someone like Sarah there to keep them from gouging their own eyes out and running screaming from the building.
Sarah and I have stayed friends, despite the fact that she was only at my school for two years, and while I have told her before how awesome I think she is, it never hurts to hear it more than once. She has just recently returned to teaching after a break to start a family, and is doing something totally different (elementary school computers), but I am sure she is knocking it out of the park once again.
So here’s to Sarah….the model mentor!