Meredith College’s Department of Education recently held a drive-through event to recognize the accomplishments of Beginning Teachers during a challenging time.
The “We Celebrate You Drive Through” event, held on March 13, 2021, was an opportunity to support new teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty teachers who graduated from Meredith College in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Fall 2020 participated.
The department, which started a formal program to support Beginning Teachers in 2006, wanted to find a way to celebrate these new educators in a COVID-safe way.
“I wanted to celebrate them for their resilience and dedication to their students,” said Field Experiences Coordinator Donna Kocur. “It has been a tough year for teachers, and many teachers are walking away from the profession. This event gave us a chance to remind beginning teachers that we in the Department of Education are here for them.”
Faculty members in the Department of Education were on hand to cheer for each teacher who drove through the event’s three stations on Meredith’s campus.
“Many of the beginning teachers came with family members in their cars, including mothers, husbands, and children,” Kocur said. “We saw huge smiles and heard laughter as they watched us share a cheer and a dance routine. I have heard from our teachers that attended that they felt happy to be back on campus and overjoyed to be celebrated by their former professors.”
In addition to the affirmations, the Beginning Teachers were provided with a gift bag filled with donations from the local community. Donations included school supplies; new books for the classroom that were matched to the grade level and content area of the teacher; hand sanitizer and tissues; healthy snacks; and a gourmet cookie from Crumbl.
The purpose of Meredith’s Beginning Teacher program is to limit teacher attrition by supporting teachers in their first years in the classroom.
The program supports Meredith College beginning teachers in the first three years and beyond, as well as those in partner schools in Wake County for those first years.
“In the past, this support included an annual Beginning Teacher conference on our campus addressing topics shared with us by beginning teachers as well as individual mentoring. Based on the identified needs of the beginning teacher, faculty supported beginning teachers with observations and feedback, co-teaching, classroom management support, and a listening ear,” Kocur said.
Some of the challenges the program focuses on include How do I work with a difficult teammate? How do I balance the many demands of teaching with the need to rest and refuel? How do I meet the goals of my personal growth plan? Faculty also provided support to entire groups of beginning teachers at schools and to all faculty based on the request of the principal.
“Every person in the Education Department continues to mentor several teachers after graduation from Meredith College,” Kocur said.