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Mentor Teacher

The Model & the Impact

Programming / January 18, 2024
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This blog uses quotes from a transcript from a video interview of JoAnne Leach, a teacher at Border Star Montessori School. This has been formatted to fit a blog. All edits that have been made are for legibility purposes only. 


At The Educator Academy, we believe in equipping our teachers with valuable resources that will prepare them for and keep them in the classroom. Although we have many wrap-around supports here at The Educator Academy, today we are focusing on our mentor teachers and why they are such a benefit to our program.  

So what is the mentor teacher program?

Aspiring mentor teachers at The Educator Academy must meet specific requirements, including a minimum of three years of teaching experience, a year of teaching at the host school, and certification in the relevant content area. While these criteria offer a glimpse into our comprehensive standards, they outline our commitment to ensuring residents work with the right mentor to guide and deepen their teaching practice. Mentor teachers at The Educator Academy boast diverse backgrounds, with some making a career switch into education. One such exemplary mentor is JoAnne Leach, a teacher at Border Star Montessori School, who generously shared her journey from educator to mentor.

JoAnne Leach’s story is one of reinvention and dedication. With a background in law, she entered the field of education in her fifties, starting at a private school with the goal of concluding her career in a public school. Certified in Montessori education after five years of teaching, she made the decision to serve as a mentor teacher with The EA. Her experience reflects the transformative power of effective teaching and the impact a highly dedicated educator can have in the classroom.

JoAnn’s journey embodies the reason we believe in cultivating teachers. Despite the initial apprehension of switching careers, JoAnn sought the opportunity, as she got older, to feel proud of herself and her work by becoming an educator. In her words, “I have an agenda, and I want the world to know my agenda. I want everyone to be treated the same, to have equal justice for all. I have no problem bringing that to my classroom. I want to be a teacher because I want to make sure that everybody walks out of here caring for everybody else and loving to learn.” JoAnn’s passion and commitment mirror the impact that effective teaching can have. 

How can I make an impact as an educator?

Now, more than ever, students need passionate, highly effective teachers in the classroom. With our program, we offer the residency plus 3 model, where our residents not only get to be in the classroom with a mentor teacher their first year but also continue to receive coaching and other wrap-around supports for three years. Building community through their cohort and with their mentor teacher is one of those supports. A number of our mentor teachers return year after year, drawn by the impact they witness on both students and teachers.

JoAnn, shares her enthusiasm for the program, stating, “I’ve been nothing but impressed with the program. I think 10 years is a great amount of time to be a teacher. It gives you an opportunity to do something, change lives, and change your life every bit as much as you’re changing their lives.” 

Becoming a mentor teacher means you continue to expand your network. By joining The EA, you are offered the opportunity to receive professional development, attend our annual conference, The Summit, and build a community with other educators in the community. Our program seeks to provide all teachers with the resources they need to be prepared and stay longer in the classroom for many years. In the words of JoAnn, “There is nothing that adds more beauty to the world than teaching.[The EA] does a great job of helping and not asking that much of me. It’s doable. Absolutely. You guys are fabulous.”