The House Education Committee advanced House Bill 4804, which establishes framework for a teacher mentor program across the state.
House Bill 4804 permits county school boards to adopt a teacher mentor program that creates a comprehensive system of support for new teachers. This program’s goal is to facilitate emerging, entry-level teachers’ growth into advanced teachers. Teacher mentor programs do already exist within the state but this bill seeks to expand it to all 55 counties and provide funding for each school district to implement the program.
Research shows that schools in West Virginia lose a high percentage of teachers in the first five years of their careers. These teachers are not leaving to teach elsewhere, they are leaving the profession all together. During the first few years of teacher observations, the school systems across the county have discovered that new teachers are struggling with some of the same issues.
Mentor teachers are entitled to additional compensation and duties as they progress as mentors in this program. Depending on the standards set by each county school board, mentor teachers may work with other teachers in different schools within the county.
Delegate Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, is a mentor teacher in his district. In the committee, he strongly supported this bill. He stated that his school’s program is not as effective as it has the potential to be because there is limited time during the day for them to meet and work together on issues.
“The more time teachers have to work with each other, the more successful schools are,” he said.
This bill models legislation in Tennessee. House Bill 4804 was referred to the House Finance Committee before being reported to the full House.
The House Education Committee also advanced House Bill 4649. This bill requires the state Board of Education to implement trauma-informed practices in schools.
Trauma-informed practices are meant to help children in schools that have learning difficulties due to trauma that was experienced in their home lives.
Martha Wright, director of development for Crittenton Services in Wheeling, West Virginia gave testimony to the committee. Wheeling County schools have implemented these practices already in collaboration with the West Virginia University Social Work Program and have seen significant results.
“Children are not just acting up because of early exposure of trauma, their brains are wired differently. You cannot discipline the trauma out of them,” Wright said.
This program provides education for parents and students. Wright said that their program never charges schools for their services. Services are both funded privately and by the Department of Human Resources. Therefore, there was no estimated fiscal impact from the bill.
House Bill 4649 was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.