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Program honored by NEA

The Hamburg School District this week was awarded the National Education Association/Saturn-United Auto Workers Partnership Award for Labor/Management Relations, one of just six districts in the country to receive the honor.

Superintendent Peter Roswell was at the NEA conference in Philadelphia earlier this week to accept the award recognizing Hamburg for its mentor teacher program.

The program provides support, guidance and peer-evaluations to younger teachers from experienced teachers. New teacher interns receive four days of professional development prior to the beginning of school and five more during the year.

Second- and third-year teachers continue to get support as needed.

According to the NEA, almost 50 percent of new teachers exit the profession within the first five years of their careers. Hamburg officials say that in the past three years, just one new teacher out of 35 has resigned.

"This is the finest program of its kind," Cliff Huen, president of the Hamburg Teachers Association said, "It's rigorous, but it helps make our teachers as good as any in the country."

Other winners were from Olathe, Kan.; Hamilton, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; Middleton, Wis.; and Rochester.

According to the NEA, districts were judged on criteria including a strong mentoring program, differentiated staffing for novice teachers, common planning time, ongoing professional development, access to an external network of teachers and standard-based evaluations.

Hamburg received a similar honor for its mentor program in 2003 from the American Federation of Teachers/ UAW. It is the only district in the country to receive both the NEA and the AFT awards, the superintendent said.

The president of the Teachers Association has been invited to speak to the AFT in Washington, D.C., at a gathering of about 2,500 people to discuss the mentor program. Huen said three other districts have similar programs, but the AFT was particularly interested in Hamburg's program because it is a comparatively smaller district. The other two districts are in metropolitan areas.

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