A number of mentorship programs in Red Deer Public Schools are further enhancing excellence in instruction and leadership in Division schools and classrooms.

Spearheaded by the Division’s People Services department, five mentorship programs are currently taking place. This includes a New Teacher Mentorship Program for teachers who have less than one year of classroom experience; a new Vice Principal and Principal Mentorship Program, both for those with between one and three years of school administration experience; an RDPSD Leads Program, which includes 12 teachers who have aspirations to take on a formal leadership role during their career; and Aspiring Leaders for any employee who wants to build or enhance their leadership toolkit or wants an opportunity to learn from and engage with other colleagues interested in leadership.

“The purpose of all of the mentorship programs is to build supportive structures that promote professional growth, skill-building and a professional learning community within Red Deer Public,” said Associate Superintendent of People Services Corrine Thorsteinson. “It’s about all of our staff feeling like they have support and mentorship at critical points in their career journey, and opportunities to build their capacity with a wider community of their Red Deer Public colleagues. Investing in our staff through mentorship and leadership development is one of many ways we are also investing in our students.”

The New Teacher Mentorship Program sees participants meet three times during the first part of the school year to connect and learn together about how they can leverage the numerous teaching resources and programs offered by the Division. The second part of the school year involves teachers being observed in their classrooms for an opportunity to demonstrate how they are implementing their learning from the program.

“The first school year for a teacher is typically a steep learning curve. Our new teachers come to us well-prepared from their post-secondary training, but the learning never ends for educators. We want to ensure our new teachers have all the tools they need to be successful and to feel supported while navigating their first school year,” said Corrine.

The Vice Principal and Principal Mentorship Programs take place on a two year cycle and see each cohort engaging in local sessions that would benefit and enhance their practices.

“This is a great opportunity for our new Vice Principals and new Principals to connect and grow in their practice together,” said Corrine. “They meet up to five times a year and engage in rich learning experiences that are relevant to their leadership roles in our schools. It is a great opportunity for participants to learn together and fill their leadership toolkits.”

The RDPSD Leads Program is a two year cohort composed of a broad group of teacher leaders from across the Division. Participants are from elementary, K-8, middle and high schools and come together five times a year to engage in content focussed on the Alberta Leadership Quality Standard. Participants in the RDPSD Leads Program have aspirations for further, formal leadership opportunities in their careers, and undergo an application and selection process to take part in the cohort.

“There was tremendous interest in this program, and we were able to accept 12 teachers,” said Corrine. “The RDPSD Leads sessions have been highly engaging days where participants have a balance of content, learning from stories of practice from other Division leaders and built-in time to reflect upon their own leadership aspirations and goals. Participants can then apply that learning back to their schools.”

And finally, the Division’s Aspiring Leaders Program is available for all employees. Five sessions on various topics take place throughout the year. These sessions are a perfect opportunity for any Red Deer Public employee who wants to explore whether a formal leadership position is right for them; wants to build or enhance their leadership toolkit; wants to lead where they are at; or wants an opportunity to learn from and engage with other colleagues interested in leadership.

“We are really proud to offer leadership programs for every employee in Red Deer Public Schools,” said Corrine. “The ultimate goal of all of our programs is to enhance what we can do in the classroom and in our schools. It’s exciting to see people develop in their roles and aspire to lead from where they’re at. Opportunities such as our mentorship programs and our leadership development cohorts contribute to the culture of Red Deer Public Schools as a learning organization. The strength of our organization is in our people. When we invest in our people, collectively, we can continue to do amazing things for our students.”