By Sarah Plummer
Raleigh County Schools Special Education Department is receiving national attention for its work providing new teachers with resources and mentorship.
Special Education Programs Director Cindy Corley-Hicks explained that recruiting and retaining special education teachers is a problem nationwide because of the challenging aspects of the job, including feelings of isolation, legal liability and copious amounts of paperwork.
In an effort to remedy this constant turnover, Raleigh County has partnered with the Department of Education and the federally funded National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development (NCIPP) to develop the New Teacher Induction and Support Project.
The goals of this project are to improve the quality of instruction and teacher satisfaction in the Special Education Department. The department has held monthly developmental sessions to address teacher concerns like behavior management techniques, participated in state provided webinars, paired 10 of the school’s new teachers with mentors, and developed a Raleigh County Schools’ Mentor and New Teacher Handbooks.
Each new teacher and mentor were issued an iPad, said Corley-Hicks. The iPads are being used to provide face-to-face chats and mentoring when needed and contain special education related apps. In addition, she said they are used as an organization tool to help teachers keep up with when paperwork needs to be submitted and to help them stay abreast of constantly changing Special Education Law.
Raleigh County has been chosen from 11 counties developing this program in West Virginia, as well as across several districts in Ohio and Colorado, to be showcased by the NCIPP at the Council for Exceptional Children’s National Convention and Expo in San Antonio in April.
Corley-Hicks said Shelly Prince, Raleigh County Schools Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator and lead on this project, will join national NCIPP project coordinator Dr. Margaret Kammen in presenting Raleigh County’s model.
Moreover, NCIPP will develop a book based on Raleigh County’s Induction Program to distribute nationally this spring.
Corley-Hicks added that Prince has also been asked to review and endorse NCIPP’s new book, “A Survival Guide for New Special Education Teachers.”
She said the department will be anxious to see how well this program helps retain special education teachers locally.
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