New teachers are full of energy and enthusiasm. They have learned the latest teaching techniques and are buoyed by idealism and a love for children.
But the first year of teaching often bursts that bubble. It can be difficult and lonely. Many new teachers leave before the end of their first year; half leave the field within five years.
To provide new teachers with support, encouragement, and on-the-job training and mentoring, Carin Guarasci started New Educators at Wagner (NEW) six years ago. So far, it has reached about 30 teachers — all of whom are still teaching and excelling in their classrooms. And through them, hundreds of students have been touched.
Each year, a cohort of about 10 new teachers meets regularly at the Guarasci home for class and discussion. Professor Guarasci travels to the teachers’ schools to observe and mentor them. All year long, the teachers work on an action research project, in which they develop solutions to challenging classroom situations.
This year, Wagner alumna Rachel Tripp ’12 M’13 and Equisha Newsome, who grew up in Staten Island and graduated from Lincoln University, are two of the NEW participants. Co-teachers of the 8th-grade science classroom at New World Preparatory Charter School in Staten Island, they agree that NEW has been beneficial.
“It gives you a safe space to work through your problems, and you get ideas about how to solve those problems from teachers at other schools,” says Tripp.
“They give breadth to what we’re doing,” agrees Newsome.
Justine Bello, who teaches sixth-grade math at Lavelle Charter School in Staten Island, says that she has benefited greatly from sharing ideas with her NEW cohort, who teach subjects ranging from science to English to history. “You normally don’t talk to teachers in other subject areas,” she says. “In the NEW program, you don’t feel alone, as most first-year teachers say they do.”
Professor Guarasci’s work as director of NEW was recognized this year when she was named a New York State Senate Woman of Distinction in Albany on May 13.
“It is truly impressive to see [the NEW teachers’] growth and development,” wrote NEW board member Fran Hogan Meyers in her letter nominating Guarasci for the award. “These fledgling teachers become remarkable educators with a stronger sense of self and ability to see a brighter future.”