It doesn't seem as if I should already be classified as a veteran teacher, but next week I report for my seventh year in the classroom. Tomorrow, I have a two-hour training session as a mentor for a new teacher.
The session will take place in the Joplin High School cafeteria beginning at 9:90 a.m. according to the e-mail I received today. Fortunately, I had received another e-mail previously telling me it would be at 9:30 a.m. so I am going to stick with that one.
I was fortunate with the people who helped me get through my first years both at Diamond and at South Middle School. At Diamond, the teacher who taught my class the year before I did offered the following advice, "You're on your own." And that was true, as far as being in the classroom was concerned, but I had a strong support network at Diamond, led by Larry Augustine, one of the handful of teachers who had been at the school when I did my student teaching there 18 years earlier.
He patiently answered any question I had about teaching, discipline, traditions...whatever I needed to know, he took the time to make sure I understood it. I was lucky to also have a group of familiar faces around me since I was changing from being a reporter and editor for 22 years to an entirely different line of work.
As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I already knew the superintendent, Dr. Greg Smith, having worked with him as a reporter when he was at Webb City and Sarcoxie. My principal, Ron Mitchell, I knew from covering some of his activities when he was a Liberal High School student in the 1980s. I remembered Larry and Dottie Doennig and Larry Cunningham from my student teaching days. Karen Loewe, an English teacher, had been a junior varsity volleyball coach at Carthage and I had covered some of social studies teacher Grant Reed's games when he was football coach at Jasper High School. So I was able to fit in much quicker than I would have otherwise.
My first year at South was even better, except for a few health problems. Of course, by this time, I had four years of teaching experience, but my mentor at South, seventh grade reading teacher Linda Weaver and my "next-door neighbor" in the eighth grade hall, Rocky Biggers, made my transition smooth, and I had support from Ron Mitchell, who was South's principal by this time, and the assistant principal Peggy Day.
Hopefully, I will be as helpful to a new teacher as the people I have named above were to me at South and at Diamond.