The Cherry Creek School District has an outstanding teaching staff; 99 percent are Highly Qualified under the No Child Left Behind Act. The district has the third most National Board Certified teachers in the state. In addition, Cherry Creek Schools has a nationally recognized program to support new teachers – the S.T.A.R. Mentor program.
The S.T.A.R. Mentor program is a partnership between the Cherry Creek Education Association and Cherry Creek Schools. Founded in 1994, S.T.A.R. stands for Staff Training Assistance and Renewal. S.T.A.R. Mentors are master teachers with years of classroom experience and proven success with students. They accept a three-year assignment to work with Cherry Creek teachers who are new to the profession or the district, and help them develop effective instructional techniques and classroom management skills.
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The program also uses host teachers – other experienced educators – who open their classrooms to new teachers, who then have the opportunity to learn by observing quality instruction in action.
“Host teachers allow new teachers to observe them and ask questions,” said Jana Frieler, director of Professional Learning for Cherry Creek Schools. “They also share resources and materials with the new teachers. They are a key component to the success of the program.”
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“It was the best thing I could have had as a first year teacher,” said Samantha Kauffman, a teacher at Sky Vista Middle School. “I’m definitely a better teacher because of it.”
“It was a life-saver,” said Shasta Johnson, who teaches at Thunder Ridge Middle School. “I could take a breath, talk with my mentor. It validated what I was experiencing.”
The Cherry Creek School District held a Celebration of Teaching on April 29 to honor the district’s first year teachers, host teachers and S.T.A. R. Mentors.
Dr. Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, thanked the mentors and host teachers for sharing the wisdom and perspective they’ve gained over the years. Then he congratulated the first year teachers for successfully completing their inaugural year in one of the most challenging and rewarding professions in the world.