Royal Mentors: Teachers Helping Teachers

Peggy Howard remembers facing a steep learning curve as an elementary teacher in Michigan. “You look back on your first year and think, wow, I knew nothing,” she says. Now she and 20 other retired teachers are looking forward to passing on their know-how to a new generation of educators through Jarrell ISD’s Royal Mentor program. “There are so many retired teachers in the area who want to inspire and motivate our younger teachers. They have a wealth of knowledge; we hope to tap into that knowledge and help teachers new to the profession,” Assistant Superintendent Pennee Hall says.

The brainchild of Pennee and her former colleague, the teacher mentorship program aims to support educators who have one year or less of experience. “Research shows we lose teachers between zero and 5 years of service. Hopefully we can facilitate support to get them through those first crucial years. They need help because teachers young to the profession have so much to do and learn that they may become overwhelmed,” Pennee told mentors at a luncheon in June. “They need a cool, calm, collected voice to provide support and say, ‘You can do it.’ ”


Starting in the fall, mentors will be paired with teachers at Jarrell’s four schools. Each will be entrusted as a safe space and sounding board, and will also sit in the classroom to offer suggestions between classes on how to handle problems with students.

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Patty Cote finds this new paradigm surprising but refreshing. “When I was a teacher, I would rather have cut off my foot than let anyone know I was struggling,” she says. “It was a different generation, and unfortunately I grew up in a time of teaching when we were very competitive. Teachers now are hungry for that feedback. Generationally, new teachers are so much more open to it and even seek to know, ‘How will I be supported on my campus?’ ”

Former teachers like Susie Hutson are only too happy to provide that support. “I think it’s great for the older generation to give back to the younger generation in this way,” she says, having taught in New York and California before making her home in Sun City. “Teaching is so important. Children are so important. They’re the future and they deserve the best of the best.”

To learn more about the Royal Mentor program, email [email protected].