Nine exceptional mentor teachers were recently recognized for their work in coaching future teachers. Jenna Coffee, seventh grade life science teacher at Thomas County Middle School, received the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (GACTE) Mentor Award during the biannual GACTE meeting.
“I was so surprised and thankful when TU contacted me initially to inform me I was nominated,” Coffee said. “Just being nominated was an honor, and I thought the actual award would likely go to someone who has mentored for 30+ years with a lot more experience.”
Each of Georgia’s nine P-20 Regional Collaboratives selected one mentor teacher who, in addition to fulfilling his/her primary obligation as an educator, has also served as a mentor to the upcoming generation of Georgia teachers. These mentor teachers model, instruct, encourage, and invest in the development of future teachers, and others have noticed their extraordinary work.
Coffee added, “At the GACTE Conference where I received the award, it was encouraging to be surrounded by other professionals who believe in the importance of mentoring new teachers as much as I do. Mentoring new teachers has a huge effect on student achievement, school climate, and teacher retention rates. New teachers who are not properly mentored are more likely to leave the profession. Personally, I love being a mentor teacher because of the exponential impact it allows me to have on the lives of our Thomas County students.”
Coffee was nominated by Dr. Susan Lynn, Chair of the Division of Education for Thomas University, and Dr. Susan Hagood, Coordinator for Assessment and Accreditation, for being “one of our most capable mentor teachers and is as effective in preparing our candidates as she is introducing her students to the wonders and rigors of science.”
Dr. Lynn said, “I join the Thomas University Division of Education faculty in congratulating Jenna Coffee on this wonderful recognition of her continued commitment to the profession. Her passion for mentoring new teachers and her dedication, enthusiasm, and insight are truly inspirational to all of us.”
In addition to honoring Coffee, TCMS Principal Clay Stanaland was also recognized. The school-level principal is a key to successful partnerships with colleges of teacher education, and he, too, was recognized for his work.
The award is co-sponsored by the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL), and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE).