PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - The teacher turnover rate is down dramatically in Petersburg. Part of the credit is going to a fairly new support program aimed at retaining teachers in the school system. The program focuses on a list of topics and issues a teacher may need help with during his or her first year in the classroom. The goal is to keep teachers here in the school system for years to come.
When it comes to tackling high teacher turnover, Petersburg seems to be making the grade. Last year the school system's turnover rate was 17 percent. This year it's 9 percent. The reason behind the reduction is being attributed to a support program.
The program is called New Teacher Round-Up Series. It teaches new instructors like Kittina Chappel, the a-b-c's of just about everything: from classroom management and building positive relationships with students, to effective discipline techniques.
"Without the program I'd be lost, I really would. You don't feel belittled because you don't know something right away," Chappell said.
School leaders say retaining quality teachers is key in creating successful students.
"It's important we provide as much support, help and guidance to teachers as possible in an effort to retain them because retention of teachers has proven to increase student achievement," said Gail Wade, Staff Development Coordinator of Petersburg County Public Schools.
Under the support program all new teachers meet monthly to foster relation, ask questions and to learn.
"We are trying to reduce our turnover as much as possible. We're not where we want to be but we are lots better than where we have been," said Wade.
And contrary to popular belief, school leaders say most teachers don't leave a school system because of low pay.
"The money has nothing to do with it - it's the students and they're invaluable," said Chappell.
Chappell says she plans on teaching in Petersburg for quite some time. Once a new teacher completes the year long program - that individual is then assigned a mentor.