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New Teacher Support

Interested in Being a Mentor?

Join us to learn what mentoring is all about.

New Teacher Support will be holding an informational meeting on March 5th from 4:00-5:00 PM at the district office. 

 
2020-2021 Mentor Application Link

Marigold Moments

Experienced gardeners utilize companion gardening to improve the growth of their plants. This means they plant certain vegetables and plants near each other. Marigolds are one of the best companion plants. They help vegetables grow big, strong, and healthy. 

Marigolds exist in Twin Rivers schools as well.

New Teacher Support is celebrating the Mentor Marigolds who support our newest Twin Rivers teachers in their first years of teaching. A Marigold Moment is a spotlight on a TR mentor and the new teacher he/she supports. We invite you to get to know some of the mentors and new teachers in our district.

March

Rachel Williams and Janaki Rao
Mentor Rachel Williams (left) & New Teacher Janaki Rao (right)
 
Mentor: Rachel Williams
 
Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have 2 children: a high school junior and an 8th grader. I started teaching 20 years ago at Northwood Elementary. My first position was teaching 5th grade. Then I moved into reading support, and I provided curriculum support to teachers. When the districts merged, I taught at Hagginwood Elementary for five years. I have also worked at the district office as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for K-6 math for five years. Currently, I’m in my second year with Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS). I love this position, especially putting systems in place and monitoring interventions. I have always enjoyed working with kids. I have been a mentor for 5 years. 

What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?

I think when you’ve been in this profession for as long as I have, mentoring keeps me fresh. I enjoy helping new teachers. I’ve had an array of new teachers. Janaki has been one of the easiest, in that she comes with a wealth of knowledge. She and I challenge each other professionally. She’ll say something and I’ll think, “I should try that, too.” So we draw on each other back and forth and make each other grow. That’s a new experience for me. So it’s been a very different experience for me with Janaki. The professional growth I have experienced while working with her has been energizing. 

My favorite mentoring moment is during the spring. As new teachers make it to spring, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’ve got everything established in your classroom and you’re actually enjoying working with the kids. Springtime is that really rewarding time.

What types of things are you doing to build your own educator resiliency? Share one way you’ve helped build your mentee’s resiliency.

Self-care is very important, and I hope I’ve helped Janaki realize that it’s super critical to her development. I try to put little treats in my mentees' boxes now and then -- chocolates or erasable pens. When you go to your teacher box, a lot of times it’s disheartening. So every now and again when there’s something nice in there, it’s lifting. I try to relieve their stress a little bit. For myself, I run. No matter what’s going on with work or my children’s sports, I make time to get what I need as far as that’s concerned.

New Teacher: Janaki Rao
 
Tell us a bit about yourself.

This is my second year in a resource position and my 3rd year in the district. I’m from Southern California. After college I worked at a non-public school for students with moderate to severe disabilities, specifically autism. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had. It taught me a huge amount about behavioral science, about the function of behavior and about how humans work. It really sparked my interest and love of teaching, and helping the students who can’t communicate for themselves in any way except through their behavior. I went to Sac State and earned an education specialist credential in moderate/severe disabilities and the multiple subject credential. I knew this position at F.C. Joyce Elementary was opening up, and I knew Jim Davis was the principal. I wanted to work here, and I wanted to work with Jim. I knew Joyce was a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) school. The fit was just more than I could have imagined. This school is amazing and just so supportive. It’s a special environment here. 

What has your mentor done to build your resiliency for teaching? What are you doing for yourself to strengthen your resiliency?

I always felt growing up that I didn’t have a lot of resilience. I’ve learned to embrace a growth mindset, finding that balance of being reflective and trying to improve but also being kind to myself. It takes time. It’s about balance between doing your best and taking care of yourself. Rachel is amazing as a person and a mentor. I cannot imagine having done any of this without her. I wouldn’t have done half the things I did without her. I hope I can do for someone else someday what she has done for me. What she does makes me feel so good, and I want to do that for someone else. 

If you could have one teacher superpower, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?

Flight. I would take students with me to go travel and see other places. The students we serve have limited opportunities to travel. I would like to give them a chance to expand their horizons and see what else is out in the world. 

February

James Leu & Eric Follestad

Mentor James Leu (left) & New Teacher Eric Follestad (right)

Mentor: James Leu

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I have been teaching at Highlands High School since I started teaching in November of 2000. I have taught English in grades 9-12, support classes, AP Language and Composition, and CTE in Digital Photography. I have mentored many new teachers from multiple subject areas, as well as a year of mentoring CTE through San Diego County Office of Education. I was drawn to teaching because I wanted to pass on my love of learning and of the English language. I volunteered at a children’s hospital in high school and knew I wanted to work with kids, so teaching was a natural extension of that and my love of learning.
 
What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?
 
My favorite thing about mentoring has always been learning new strategies from my mentees. Every year I learn something about my own teaching, including newer ways to manage my classroom or new ways to engage students in learning, especially with new technologies.

What types of things are you doing to build your own educator resiliency? Share one way you've helped build your mentee's resiliency. 

Over the years, I have learned to give more time to myself. When I’m home, I separate from thinking about school and teaching as much as I can and that has helped my stress levels so much. I try to impart to my teachers that they also need to make that time for themselves. I also stress that it is okay to not be in lockstep with other teachers because their students are different and will not learn at the same pace.
 

New Teacher: Eric Follestad

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
My name is Eric Follestad, I teach General Chemistry and IM 1 Math at CCAA. My first passion was Science in middle school and high school. I had a great science teacher in 7th grade, who inspired me to study science. My undergraduate degree was Oceanography (B.S) at the Naval Academy. I was stationed in the Navy, and was the Undersea Warfare Officer on a ship, and deployed to the Persian Gulf. Later, I worked for an investment bank and brokerage firms on Wall Street. I decided to get into teaching because I felt passionate about helping students and found talking about clients and their money unfulfilling.

What has your mentor done to build your resiliency for teaching? What are you doing for yourself to strengthen your resiliency?

James has been great to discuss pedagogy and classroom management. Teaching two subjects in your first two years is difficult. I have to prepare for two types of classes, and they are all taught in the same room/laboratory environment. James has given me some great ideas to try, and listens to me vent frustrations about specific students and policies. He has given me strategies for English Learners and students who receive special education services. I am attending professional development sponsored by the district and the Sacramento County Office of Education, and by reading books on classroom management. Lastly, taking a big deep breath and realizing that students need to meet me halfway for their success. My Induction Professional Growth presentation will focus on classroom management to improve student outcomes and the classroom environment.

If you could have one teacher superpower, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?

If I had a teacher superpower, it would be the ability to turn off all cell phones with a snap of my finger. This superpower would remove the distraction of social media, music and videos that is hurting our students' achievement. They are addicted to their cell phones and have not learned self-control around them.

January

Courtney Hackworth & Carrie Davis

New Teacher Courtney Hackworth (left) & Mentor Carrie Davis (right)

Mentor: Carrie Davis

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I have been married for 30+ years and have two grown daughters. We also have two cats, who keep us entertained daily. I taught 3rd, 4th and 6th grades for 28 years at Allison, Frontier & Sierra View. I’m currently an MTSS Specialist working at Kohler and Hillsdale. I’ve been in this position for 4 years. I’ve been mentoring for 5 years. I just always loved everything about school and wanted to continue to be involved in school. I always liked my teachers and wanted to be one from a young age. Helping children realize their potential and seeing those light bulbs go on when students understand a concept is priceless. That’s what drew me to this profession. I love the MTSS position because I get to see and help so many students and teachers.
 
What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?
 
Working with new teachers is very rewarding. My favorite mentoring moment is the enduring relationship I have with one of my mentees from several years ago. I’ve seen her continue to grow in her confidence and experience. I’ve seen her grow into a confident teacher. I have also seen her learn how to balance work and family as her family grows. She knows she can reach out to me when she has questions or she needs resources. The relationship between a mentor and a beginning teacher is special because, like with our students, we get to see the confident educators they become. 

What types of things are you doing to build your own educator resiliency? Share one way you've helped build your mentee's resiliency. 

I exercise several times a week. Spin, group strength training and yoga classes really help me clear my mind. I also enjoy walking with my next-door neighbor. We chat about life, kids and work. I enjoy telling her about the experiences I have as an educator. Because she’s not a teacher, it’s nice to get her perspective. We find the humor in some difficult situations. I also enjoy reading teaching blogs and articles. To build Courtney’s resiliency, I let her know she can ask me anything, at any time. I helped to foster relationships within our staff and she fit right in. Courtney is a believer of self-care and building social emotional skills with her students. She incorporates many of the SEL activities we do at Kohler into her classroom.  
 

New Teacher: Courtney Hackworth

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I am originally from Southern California. My journey here was very serendipitous. I just moved to the Sacramento area after accepting a teaching position with Twin Rivers in August. I now teach 6th grade at Kohler. I was originally wanting to pursue social work after college and help disadvantaged kids and families. However, along the way a mentor (my old first grade teacher) recommended that I become a substitute teacher while looking for a career in this field. My first day subbing was in her class--that’s when I had my “AHA” moment. I then realized that teaching would be a fulfilling career for me and I made the move into education. My favorite moments so far as a new teacher are when I can turn a challenging moment in my classroom back into a productive moment through the use of spontaneous fun. Those have been powerful ways to build connections with and between my students and me. They have helped build trust and community in my classroom.

What has your mentor done to build your resiliency for teaching? What are you doing for yourself to strengthen your resiliency?

Carrie is always available for me to ask questions or share my frustrations. And she always has a little something for me to try. For myself, I have learned the importance of self-care and taking time for myself. I recently adopted a puppy. He’s a great diversion from all the planning and worrying about students. I also find a lot of relief and support from my family, friends, and especially my colleagues. We share with each other the things that happen in the day. They really get what it’s like. We laugh and we commiserate. 

If you could have one teacher superpower, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?

Telepathy would be an interesting superpower. I think being able to know what students were thinking or feeling when it was getting in the way of their learning and being able to privately send them an encouraging thought would be another way I could support my students. Just so they know that I got them. 

December

Julie Bradford & Nicole Schlie

New Teacher Julie Bradford (left) & Mentor Nicole Schlie (right)

Mentor: Nicole Schlie

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I have been teaching for 24 years. I have taught Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. I had the opportunity to help tutor students in reading, and I was hooked. I loved seeing how happy students were when they understood they could read. I have been a mentor for 10 years and I love all the people I have had the opportunity to work with. New teachers are amazing - the enthusiasm, new ideas, dedication.
 
What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?
 
My favorite part of mentoring is the people and conversations. When teachers light up when they talk about a change they see in their students or when they share something difficult and are ready to try a new idea or strategy. I love sharing with my new teachers how much they change over the 2 years because they do not usually see the changes or progress.
 
How do you build community within your classroom/department? How does this impact your work with students/families/peers?
 
Building community is building relationships. You cannot make an impact with children or adults if you do not have a relationship. I work hard to understand the students and adults I work with to make the impact on our students and families the best they can be. We are sometimes the light in the students' life. 
 

New Teacher: Julie Bradford

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I teach Transitional Kindergarten at F.C. Joyce Elementary. When my oldest daughter was in preschool, I wanted to be involved with her education. By working in the classroom, I enjoyed working with the kids and I saw I could have an impact on their lives. I noticed they also had an impact on my life. It is reciprocal with children - I give to them and they give to me. My favorite moment so far as a new teacher is seeing the growth in my students from the beginning of the year to the end.
 
How do you build community within your classroom? How does this impact your work with students and families?
 
I build community by explaining this is our house during the day. We treat people with kindness and respect. I treat students the way I want to be treated. I teach students school is a safe place and when students feel safe they care more about each other. When I have a relationship with students, the students are invested in their learning. Creating a safe environment where people listen and care for one another positively impacts both academic and social skills.
 
If you could have one teacher superpower, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?
 
I don't know what superpower I would ask for but I believe my superpower is understanding. I understand my students which helps me get to know and motivate them. Understanding helps me create and build relationships with my students and families. Understanding what students and families are experiencing helps build empathy for how they feel and supports me so I can assist them. Being open-minded helps me advocate for my students and families. 

November

Debra Trejo and Forrest Brissey

Debra Trejo (left), Forrest Brissey (right)

Mentor: Debra Trejo

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been teaching special education for 20 years. I currently teach grades 9-12 at Pacific Career & Technology High School. I knew I wanted to be a special education teacher since I was 16. I love working with our older students. You can be honest in your conversations with them; they can see what the future holds and how the decisions they make will impact their future. This is my second year as a mentor. If it hadn’t been for the mentor I had as a new teacher, I probably wouldn’t have survived my first year. 
 
What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?
 
What I like best about mentoring is meeting fresh faces in our profession. Everyone starting out wants to make a difference.They want to do the best and be the best they can so their students will be successful. My favorite mentoring moment has been meeting Forrest--what he brings, his joy, his sharing of his life with others. He’s determined to be the best he can be. That is what makes a difference because this is about the kids, not about us. We need to bend and change to where we work the way our students need us to work. I’ve seen Forrest do that in the short amount of time I’ve known him.

How do you build community within your classroom/department? How does this impact your work with students/families/peers?

For me, it’s that I’m real. My students ask me questions. I’m a person too, not just a body that’s instructing them. The students I work with can see right through fake adults. They want us to be honest. And respect goes both ways. One of the things I tell my students is that I don’t care what the paperwork says about them, I don’t care what the other adults have said about them. I want to know who they are; I will make my own conclusion. Every day is a new day, every period is a new period, every minute is a new minute. When my students walk across the graduation stage, when many of the adults in their lives have told them they’ll never succeed or graduate, I know I had a part in helping them succeed. That’s what makes my job worthwhile.

New Teacher: Forrest Brissey

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
My family recently relocated to Sacramento, and I’m excited to be a teacher in Twin Rivers. I was a behavioral therapist for 8 years working with individuals from Kindergarten to post-secondary/transition. When I decided I was ready to get more involved in education, I started substitute teaching. About a month in to subbing, a principal asked me to enroll in a credential program so I could teach. My favorite moments have been getting to know my students and engaging with them to create a positive learning experience so they want to come to school.

How are you building community within your classroom? How has this impacted your work with students and families?

My classroom is a family. I tell my students to look at the person across the table. That person is part of their family. I tell my students they need to take care of each other. We have family rules. We’ve built a positive classroom environment where students are engaging with each other. They are socializing and becoming friends. They are watching out for each other.

If you could have one teacher superpower, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?

I would like an administrative paperwork superpower. My strength is in working with students but my job also requires lots of organization of paperwork and meeting important deadlines. 

October

New Teacher and Mentor
Samir Malik (left), Laureen Riddick (right)

Mentor: Laureen Riddick

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been teaching science at Smythe 7-8 for 3 years, and I’ve been in the district for 5 years. This is my second year as a mentor. I had a really challenging experience as a student. I struggled in math. It was challenging until I had a math teacher in middle school who really took the time to work with me, to connect with me. He worked with me after school so I understood the concepts. That drew me into education because I wanted to be that person to help students navigate through education.
 
What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?
 
Malik is my favorite mentoring moment. He and I connected my first year of teaching. I was a brand new teacher at MLK and he subbed for my class. We developed a friendship. Malik let me know that my sub plans were so detailed and my classroom structured in such a way that it supported his success while subbing. That was such a boost to my confidence as a new teacher. So to be able to be his mentor now, five years later, and help support him through his first years of teaching, feels like I’m returning the favor.

How do you engage your students? And how does staying present in the moment support student engagement?

In science my students are all about hands-on activities. I engage them by building relationships with them. I get to know my students both inside and outside my classroom. I run a student Instagram account where we post photos of what we’re doing in class. Students can see sneak peeks of upcoming activities. They get very excited to see pics of activities they are involved in. I go see my students in their extracurricular activities, and I coach cheerleading so I can develop those connections. When things aren’t going well, you have to find your moments. You have to find a way to breathe through the tough parts and realize this too shall pass. My number one piece of advice is to learn to laugh with your students. Samir and I teach middle school. Middle schoolers are hilarious. When you find those moments to laugh, you will remember your WHY about education.
 

New Teacher: Samir Malik

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I teach 7th and 8th grade history at F.C. Joyce. Before I got into teaching I was pursuing a law degree. As I was sitting in class I kept thinking, “If I gotta work for 40 + hours, I can’t do it just sitting here writing.” I really missed working with kids. In high school I coached and tutored kids. I missed seeing those "aha" moments in kids' eyes. I was weak at math. It took a teacher in high school to help me succeed. You don’t get those moments as an attorney. To me, those "aha" moments are instant gratification. 
 
How do you engage your students? And how does staying present in the moment support student engagement?

I get to see every single 7th and 8th grader at this school. I get to develop relationships with each student here. I engage students by connecting on topics they care about, like anime. I don’t really watch anime but I try to go out of my way to check it out and then talk to my students about it. My students notice that I connect with them on topics they are into, and I hope that translates to them going out of their way to do some of the harder work they weren’t willing to do previously. That means the world to me. 

My favorite moment at Joyce so far has been my student’s commenting that my class seems to go by so fast. I think that’s the ultimate compliment. Not that “you're the best teacher” or “my favorite teacher” but that they enjoyed the lesson or the lesson was engaging them. I had a student come up to me and tell me he hated history but this year was the first year he was holding a B.

Going home, reflecting on my lesson plans, gets me more excited about the next year when I’ll do that lesson even better. I like doing a lot of 21st century skills, bringing in projects and group work. It makes me excited to teach another year.

I gotta bring the excitement level. I purposely placed my desk away from the front of the room. I constantly walk around. My students see me active around the room. As I walk the room, I work individually to scaffold the assignment. 

If you could have one teacher super-power, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?

My superpower would be to multiply myself. My English Learners would really benefit if there were four of me. They could get more concentrated help from me. Having multiple Maliks would be awesome because I would get to know my students even better.
 

September

NT Soares Mentor Herren

Nicole Soares (left), Janae Herren (right)

Mentor: Janae Herren

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I teach physical education at Grant HS. My passion has always been in sports and I was drawn to teaching because I enjoy working with kids. I’ve been a mentor for four years.
 
What do you like best about mentoring? Do you have a favorite mentoring moment?
 
The best part of mentoring is meeting the new teachers and building a relationship of support. I love watching my mentees grow. My favorite mentoring moment is during the observations when I see the things that my mentees have learned, watching things connect for that teacher.

How do you build community within your classroom/department? How does this impact your work with students/families/peers?

I build community in PE through team building. I make teams so students work together with different people. Team building activities help students learn how to work with different kinds of people. Our PE staff brings all classes together for warm up or cardio days so students have opportunities to work together with students from other classes. In my yoga class, I have a kindness focus this year. Students do partner poses and we talk about ways to show kindness to those you might only see in class. For example, smiling and saying "hi" to someone in the hallway. We talk about the impact that might have on another person.
 

New Teacher: Nicole Soares

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I teach physical education at Rio Linda High School. I’ve always been an athlete and participated in sports. What brought me to teaching was an AHA moment I had while helping my sister with math homework. I had a huge feeling of satisfaction when she understood it. I went into the military after high school and learned about how to be disciplined. My favorite new teacher moment is that everyday it’s fun. It’s hard, too. But I get to play. It has its hard moments, but if you step back and look at this job-it’s a great way to spend your work life.

How are you building community within your classroom? How has this impacted your work with students and families?

I build community through team building in PE. I make the teams so I can ensure a balance in athletic ability, gender, and to provide an opportunity to work with different students.

If you could have one teacher superpower, what would it be? How would this power make you a better advocate for your students?

My teacher superpower would be to read minds. Some kids are harder than others to understand. If I could read those particular students’ minds, I could help them, help guide them toward better choices.