May 10, 2021 - In honor of Teacher Appreciation week, the School of Education at CSUCI is highlighting our incredible Mentor Teachers. We are so very fortunate to have wonderful collaborative relationships with our local districts, and we are beyond grateful for the hundreds of mentor teachers who have worked with us over the years and the work they do to help us prepare educators for California’s schools! A HUGE and heartfelt “Thank You” to all the Mentor Teachers who have opened doors, shared wisdom, and modeled teaching excellence for CSUCI student teachers!

Last week, we shared profiles of our “Master Mentors,” those Mentors who have worked with 5 or more CSUCI student teachers over the year. We asked them to share with us why they feel so compelled to help guide the next generation of educators.

Read their stories below!

Mary Postal, Special Education Teacher | Monte Vista Middle School, Pleasant Valley School District |Mentor for Six CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Mary felt it was important to mentor new teachers as a way to give back to the program that made such an impact on her life. Going into any new adventure can be challenging and intimidating, stepping up and teaching in a classroom for the first time is no exception. As a mentor, Mary hoped to instill the confidence and discipline that would allow her student teachers to shine and blossom and become leaders... From the feedback of past CSUCI student teachers, she succeeded." - David (Mary's husband)

Annie Ransom, K-8 Science Coach |University Preparation Charter School at CSU Channel Islands | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Working with a student teacher enables me to reflect upon and improve my own practice while also making a difference in the lives of the hundreds of students my mentees will teach in their career. I aim to not only prepare them for the immediate needs of tomorrow but also to inspire them to think about their vision and goals as an educator and life-long learner. I hope I have prepared them to embrace the fact that this career is hard and as soon as you think you have a handle on don't. I hope they will embrace the need to continually evolve and change in this challenging but rewarding career."

Brenda Goodson, 6th Grade Humanities | University Preparation Charter School at CSUC Channel Islands | Mentor for Six CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Teaching is challenging and fun! Working with student teachers gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge, and explore new ideas together as collaborators in education. When student teachers enter my classroom, they have a safe space to investigate strategies, and then plan and deliver lessons that excite students. The experience provides a foundation for all they will do during their teaching career."

Nerida Hodge, 2nd Grade | Rancho Rosal Elementary, Pleasant Valley School District | Mentor for Six CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Teaching is such an essential, personal, and complex job. This profession is about learning through collaboration. New teachers need to feel all the 'grows and glows' of this profession to make sure it’s the right fit for them.

Learning is fluid. I learn just as much from my students as they learn from me. Treating students with care and respect will always show positive results. Building relationships is essential for learning."

Sue Owechko, RSP K-5 | Harrington School, Oxnard Elementary School District, Retired June 2020 | Mentor for Seven CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"I feel it is important for teachers to mentor new teachers since they have first hand experience in the classroom. Teachers are able to serve as a model for new teachers and provide support, ideas, and hands on experiences. They can model lessons and then help new teachers prepare their own lessons. The working relationship between the experienced and new teacher allows for an environment that can nurture support and help to build confidence in the new teacher. As a Mentor teacher, I wanted to pass along a love for the job and the knowledge of the difference they can make in their student's lives."

Shannon Klemann, Biology | Adolfo Camarillo High School, Oxnard Union HS District | Mentor for Six CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"In my first teaching experience, I was given a textbook and a room. If we want our upcoming educators to succeed, we need to arm them with more than that; including real-world experience with students, a solid repertoire of activities, and the skills to find new activities to be adapted to the learning environment. I feel like student teachers get these things from their co-teaching experience in my classroom but in addition, I always gain something from my experiences with these educators as well. I want the student teachers that pass through my classes to find joy in creating and facilitating experiences that make a difference for students."

Bridget Driscoll, Elementary level SPED | Phoenix Los Nogales, VCOE | Mentor for Ten CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"I think it is important for teachers to mentor new teachers because we have so much accumulated knowledge and experience to share. I enjoy sharing my personal teaching philosophy because I think that drives so much of what I do with my students. I want new teachers to take away confidence in themselves to work with students with challenging behaviors. New teachers should have knowledge of the function of students’ problem behaviors and strategies to help those students be successful in school."

Chelsea Rubino, 1st-3rd M/M SDC | Harrington Elementary, Oxnard School District | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"There is so much to know and learn as teachers. It’s a joy to be able to give back and support new teachers as they embark on this important career. My goal is to model solid and engaging instruction, demonstrate effective classroom management, and have ongoing reflective conversations about what is happening in the classroom, what went well, and what could be done to improve. This makes for a meaningful time of learning and growing."

Heather Gout, Kinder/1st Grade | University Preparation Charter School, Pleasant Valley District | Mentor for Eight CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Mentoring is important to both the new teachers as well as to the veteran teachers because we all have something to learn from each other. It is important to foster these relationships to be lifelong learners and to continue the enthusiasm of teaching. In my classroom, I would want a new teacher to see the whole picture and all the working parts- the students, the parents, the classroom aides and volunteers, the school staff, the grade level teams - and how we all work together as one for the benefit of the students."

Heather Lane, 4th & 5th | Conejo Elementary, Conejo Valley Unified School District, Currently: Dean of Students at Colina Middle School | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"It is important for teachers to mentor new teachers because I felt it was not only a good opportunity to share the strategies and wisdom I had learned through my own years of teaching, but it also gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate my strategies and to learn new ones. Student teaching is an excellent way to put real-time practice into the skills and strategies you are learning in your program. Be open to trying new things and ask for help. Don't try to be the same as your mentor teacher, but find your own voice!"

Jennifer Fernandez |Arroyo West Active Learning Academy, Moorpark Unified | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"I feel that it is essential to mentor new teachers because teaching is so difficult. There are so many aspects to teaching and new teachers will be overwhelmed. They need to know that it is all part of being a novice. I try to show them that learning to teach well is a skill. I also try to show that you are always learning and adjusting, to what your students need."

John Miller, 7th Grade Social Studies | Fremont Middle School, Oxnard School District | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"It’s important for teachers to mentor new teachers in order to properly prepare them for the rigors of teaching in today’s classroom. Mentor teachers can draw on experience to provide insight that can assist new teachers in achieving a long, sustainable, and successful teaching career. Something I want the student teachers to take away from the experience is to never hesitate to ask questions or seek is available when you need it."

Renee Guiang | Rancho Rosal Elementary School, Pleasant Valley School District |Mentor for Seven CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"It is important for teachers to mentor new teachers because new teachers need a safe place to learn, practice and grow through hands on experiences. Mentors also provide new teachers with someone to collaborate with and reflect on skills that are needed to be successful. My goal as a teacher that I want new teachers to take away from their experience is to most of all have fun teaching, be silly and enjoy the kids while being kind, caring and respectful. The rewards of teaching are in the love you give to the students."

Maybellyne Frazer, 6th-RSP Math & ELA | Frank Academy, Oxnard Elementary School District | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Mentor teachers have a lot of experiences that are very helpful to the new teachers. These are learning opportunities that the textbooks don’t teach. They have been through a lot of changes and weathered them, and in giving guidance to the new teachers, they become more certain that they’re trained accordingly. There are things that happen along the way, and you just have to be creative and flexible all the time. Believe that you can, knowing that your students are looking up to you for guidance. Remember, teachers change lives for the better. Believe that you can and you will!"

Linda Blanco | Induction Mentor at Conejo Valley Unified District, Previously at Banyan, Glenwood, & Aspen Elementary | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Veteran teachers have real life experience to share with new teachers. A discussion with someone with whom you can ask questions and get feedback is much more valuable than reading or hearing about it. My goal was to allow student teachers to do as much as they were comfortable doing to get the experience they needed to build confidence. I made sure they felt supported to experiment so they could find their own voice and not just mimic my style.”

Katie Tran, 2nd Grade | Las Posas Elementary, Pleasant Valley School District | Mentor for Five CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Mentoring student teachers is a win-win situation! New teachers need the hands-on experience while under the caring guidance of the mentor teachers. The students benefit from having a second teacher in the classroom for extra support. Teaching is not as easy as others would like to perceive. To be successful in this profession, teachers have to have a lot of heart and brain, along with having the skill to work with certificated and classified staff, administrators, and parents. Lastly, even on the toughest day in the classroom, teachers can still find joy or comfort in knowing that they're making a positive impact on their students' day and for as many days as possible.”

Keeva Conde, Kindergarten | Rancho Rosal Elementary School, Pleasant Valley School District | Mentor for Seven CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"It’s important to give back. I was once a new teacher, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance and support of my mentor teachers. I try to give my student teachers a very realistic picture of all that being a teacher entails. Teaching involves wearing many different hats, and it is so important that student teachers realize that and have the opportunity to experience every aspect of the job."

Kelly Taminich, 2nd Grade | Rancho Rosal, Pleasant Valley School District | Mentor for Six CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"I was a credential student at CSUCI and I am thankful to be able to work with others who are taking the same that that I did. I love sharing the wealth of knowledge that I have gained since becoming a teacher and I also love learning new information, having fresh ideas, and loads of creative new activities and ways to teach. Having a student teacher has not only allowed me to reflect and help them grow, but it has also helped me be the best that I can be in the classroom. It has provided my students with two caring adults and more opportunities to differentiate and support them as needed."

Brandon Sportel | Barbara Webster Elementary, Santa Paula Unified School District | Mentor for Twelve CSUCI Teacher Candidates

"Mentoring new teachers requires problem solving through effective collaboration and interpersonal relationships. When I’m given the responsibility of leading our future educators, I instinctively feel a duty to be my best for the future of our communities. Ultimately, both Mentor and mentee inspire one another’s vision and growth mindset, igniting their passion for education. My intention is student teachers leave my program with increased self-efficacy through experience with trial and error. There are many tools and strategies to support students, but it takes time and determination to find the ones that fit best with each individual student."

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