“The only school-controlled variable that truly impacts student success is teacher quality,” according to Wade Whitehead ’94, a fifth grade teacher in Roanoke, VA and a 2016 inductee to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. His foundation, Teachers of Promise, supports new teachers because as anyone who has started a new job, hoping to make an impact, knows the overwhelming stress and concerns that comes with it. Teachers of Promise aims to help new teachers overcome these challenges.
Photo - of -
Teachers of Promise Foundation was created to “celebrate the decision to teach, to elevate the teaching profession to the status it deserves, and to activate its participants to achieve professional excellence.” The Foundation provides uplifting support to teachers at its annual Teachers of Promise Institute, where preservice teachers and master educators gather at a two day intensive conference of workshops, group meetings and a gala celebration.
At the 2018 Institute, five William & Mary School of Education students from multiple areas of study were inducted into the program, including Olivia Anderson M.A.Ed. ’18, secondary English education; CJ Cahill M.A.Ed. ’18, secondary science education; Zack Fetters ’16, M.A.Ed. ’18, special education; Woody Lake ’18, elementary education; and Juliana Morrison ’17, M.A.Ed. ’18, secondary social studies education and ESL.
In addition to attending a wide variety of workshops aimed to provide both preservice and master teachers with the latest teaching strategies and tools for success in the classroom, the students were paired with a mentor to provide support through their first years of teaching. The support that comes with the trust and understanding of a mentor was already felt by Cahill upon returning from the conference. “It’s the difference between feeling stressed and nervous about teaching to feeling confident to get started.”
The Institute also provided an opportunity for students to network with peers from other schools of education all across Virginia. During this time, they are able to discuss aspirations and concerns with others about their upcoming first year of teaching. For Lake, speaking with students from other colleges was insightful. “It encouraged me to work harder towards the unified goal of becoming an impactful teacher.”
The Institute also gave students an opportunity to expand their networks as many W&M alumni attended the conference, including JoLynne DeMary ’68, Ed.D. ’82, former state superintendent of public instruction for the Virginia Department of Education, who spoke at the gala celebration.
“I was heartened to see so many people gathered together to celebrate education and offer support to each other,” said Lake. “It was amazing how many teachers and administrators wanted to take their time to share their wisdom and their love for the profession.” It is through this kind of support that the Teachers of Promise Foundation hopes to uplift the very best teachers to make an impact on the next generation.