Victory College Prep: Mentor Program Boosts Performance and Retention

In our new series, ‘Meet Our Schools’, Teach Indy will share the work of schools across center township uplifting the vision and mission for student success through the eyes of educators in the buildings. Special thanks to Ozmara Arteaga for for authoring this Blog Post.

The Victory College Prep (VCP) Mentor Program launched in the summer of 2022 to pair new teachers and administrators with a veteran team member. The program aims to boost staff performance and retention while building a stronger community and culture. 

Mentors meet with mentees once a week during new hires’ first 30 days then once monthly for the remainder of the school year. The meetings are a time to assess opportunities to improve in the classroom and provide social-emotional support to one another. 

In the 2022-2023 school year, Sam Lamkin tapped into his 10+ years of experience at VCP to help guide first-year teacher Grace Monogan toward success. The mentor and mentee recently spoke about their VCP Mentor Program experience, revealing the benefits to participants. 

Structured Checkpoints = Consistency + Reliability

The Mentor Program’s compulsory meeting schedule provides a vital feedback loop that new team members can count on and veteran teachers feel confident about facilitating. 

THE MENTOR’S VIEW: Lamkin: “Whenever we had teachers that were new to the building or teaching for the first time before we had this program, it was hard to determine how much support you should try to offer.You didn’t want to just blurt out things they may not be doing well or suddenly offer up some things that I think they should do. How do you create the space to talk about things like that? The Mentor Program formalized a process that makes it easy for me to share what to work on or suggest what they could do.”

THE MENTEE’S VIEW: Monogan: “It was nice to not be starting from a blank slate. I got a lot of good ideas of things that would be effective, so it was nice to have a model of where to start instead of starting and making a ton of mistakes on my own.. I was able to learn from my first day at school and see what really good middle school math teaching looked like, and I feel like that saved me in a lot of ways.”

What’s Old Feels New | What’s New Feels Old

The Mentor Program helps new hires feel more capable and confident. Veteran teachers feel reenergized and freshly inspired. 

THE MENTOR’S VIEW: Lamkin: “Once you’re teaching for a while you fall into a routine. These are the things that I do; this is how my class runs. Being with a person who is teaching for the first year, you remember all the things you felt when you first started teaching, and it renewed that energy of my first year of teaching. It brings back all the hope and ambition you have, and you bring that into the new school year.”

THE MENTEE’S VIEW: Mongan: “Teaching is so hard. But when I am feeling that way, we can have a conversation about it, and I’ll ask him for advice on how to defuse a difficult situation with a student or how to address a circumstance that I couldn’t anticipate. We have conversations like that where he explains what he did in a similar situation, and now I have his wisdom and experience to bring into my situations.”

Your Own Social-Emotional Support Buddy

The Mentor Program extends support beyond the mechanics of teaching and best practices for delivering content, and participants find a vital outlet to express themselves and their feelings. 

THE MENTOR’S VIEW: Lamkin: “It’s just finding that balance in helping each other. When issues outside of instruction need more attention, we can support one another in those situations. We can help each other find balance with what’s going on in school.” 

THE MENTEE’S VIEW: Monogan: “We can just talk about what it’s like to be a teacher because I feel like only teachers understand what it’s like to do this work. And it may sound cheesy, but if I am ever freaking out about something at school, I just think to myself that Mr. Lamkin is going to be there for me. Your mentor can be your rock at work, and help you believe you can do it.”

Two Heads Are Better Than One

The Mentor Program encourages collaboration, which often generates stronger ideas that produce better outcomes for students.

THE MENTOR’S VIEW: Lamkin: “I remember my first year teaching and trying so many things, thinking how cool they were going to be when the students tried them. And then, this and that thing did not go well at all, and it leaves people asking what you are trying to do. Now, there’s an opportunity to consider ideas together. Or, I can bring some of those old ideas back because now there are two of us, and we can make these things successful together.”

THE MENTEE’S VIEW: Monogan: “We benefit each other by bringing different energies. He is very calm and grounded and can think through how to navigate what might be anxious moments or situations. I have a higher energy and can help us think about how to make something more engaging or exciting, and I feel like we balance each other out.”

Lamkin and Monogan are one example of the program’s wide-ranging impact. In 2022-2023, a total of 54 VCP staff participated in the VCP Mentor Program: 38 new VCP teachers and 16 VCP veterans. Nearly 85% of the program mentees attributed their success in the first month of school as new VCP teachers to their experiences with their mentor, and VCP staff retention climbed 9% in the first semester compared to the previous year. VCP is proud of the impact the program has made on our educators thus far and looks forward to further supporting staff in meaningful ways in the future.

To hear directly from Mr. Lamkin and Ms. Monogan, check out their video interview here.

We thank the incredible educators of Victory College Prep for sharing their experience: Sam Lamkin, Mentor Teacher, Math; Grace Monogan, Mentee Teacher, Math and Ozmara Arteaga, Talent and Communications Coordinator.