Ventura County Office of Education Presents Annual Induction Celebration
By Tim Pompey
Imagine yourself as a first-time teacher stepping into a classroom filled with rowdy students. After receiving a university degree, you’ve been cleared to take that first big step—to take care of thirty plus students on your own, to present a cohesive curriculum, to motivate them to learn. It’s not hard to imagine a new instructor stepping through their classroom door and saying to themselves: What have I gotten myself into?
According to Dr. Paula Lovo, Assistant Superintendent of Teacher Support and Expanded Learning Services for the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, the national retention rate for new teachers is only 50%.
She cites numerous reasons for this, including classroom isolation, lack of experience working with parents, problems with classroom management, and confusion about how to use the curriculum that they’re given. According to Lovo, “New teachers get overwhelmed and frustrated, and they really have no one to turn to.”
Since 1997, Lovo has overseen a state-funded program managed through the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. It’s called the Beginning Teachers Support and Assessment Program (BTSA), a mentor-based training program that shepherds new teachers through a series of classes about how to become successful in their classroom. “It’s a two-year program where teachers are provided targeted professional development,” said Lovo. “They are mentored and given support so that we can increase retention of new teachers in the profession.”
The program seems to be working. Since its inception, the retention rate for new teachers in Ventura County has risen to 88%.
Lovo was first approached in 1997, by then County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Weis, to launch the BTSA program in Ventura County. Weis picked Lovo because of her extensive experience working with Dr. Sue Wasserman at Cal State Northridge on the California New Teacher program in 1988 and with the initial launching of the statewide BTSA program in 1992.
Now finishing up its 16th year, the program celebrated another annual induction ceremony on Thursday, May 16 at the Ventura County Conference and Educational Services Center in Camarillo. The induction ceremony recognized 195 instructors who had completed their training and were receiving their two-year clear credential.
The featured speaker at the event was Dr. Beverly Young, who, as vice chancellor for California State University, has worked extensively to coordinate this program with the California State Department of Education and the California State Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
From its early inception, when the program began with only two school districts, the BTSA program in Ventura County has grown to include 22 districts, 12 charter and 62 private entities. Since 1997, it has credentialed more than 2,000 participants, almost a third of the 6,500 teachers who work in Ventura County.
Lovo is particularly proud of the program’s widespread support, including many private and religious entities, and its incorporation of cultural diversity into its training program. She noted how new teachers work in their first semester of training to collect demographic data on their students and to answer the important question: Who are my students?
“We have been fortunate to have teacher pipelines that promote diversity into the teaching profession,” she explained, “including such programs as the Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program, the Bilingual Teacher Recruitment Program, and the University Intern Program.”
Lovo notes how this has helped foster a more diverse teaching community in the county. “For all of these programs, the majority of participants have been persons of color,” she said. “Induction is the culmination, but it’s important to maintain these pipelines so that we can maintain diversity.”