Kalamazoo RESA (KRESA) launched its New Teacher Academy in August, welcoming more than 30 new educational professionals to the agency. The five-part series will help new teachers and certified professional staff to grow, feel connected to one another, receive support from leadership, and focus on the agency’s core values.
Karen Rangler, principal at the Young Adult Program (YAP), is one of the established educators coordinating the program. She is working alongside Angela Telfer, executive director of center-based programs, and Mindy Miller, assistant superintendent of special education.
“The New Teacher Academy is open to any new, certified teachers, and other professional staff such as speech and language pathologists, or physical therapists,” Rangler said. The group will meet periodically throughout the school year to talk about KRESA’s core values, continuous improvement, and the agency’s work to become an anti-bias/anti-racism (ABAR) organization.
Rangler, who’s been with KRESA for nearly 10 years, hopes the academy will connect staff members. “It’s important to have the opportunity to see what else is happening at KRESA. We learn from others when we step outside our little home,” Rangler said.
Emily Whittico joined KRESA at WoodsEdge Learning Center in July 2020; she spent most of her first year teaching remotely. This year, she’s in-person, teaching middle school students who are severely cognitively impaired.
“At the academy launch, it was fun to be in person with people I’ve not been able to meet face-to-face,” she said. She also appreciated having a chance to meet with members of KRESA’s executive leadership team. Superintendent Dave Campbell spoke to the group about the agency’s core values and its strategic plan. “He made sure we understand it so we can acknowledge the areas where we’re doing well and get input on ways we can improve in other areas,” said Whittico. “It’s a hard time in education. We need to remind ourselves of why we’re here and what we value.”
The group also heard from the KRESA ABAR team. “I’m proud to work at a district where we aren’t afraid to talk about these issues and it’s part of who we are. We support each other. We accept everybody,” she said.
The New Teacher Academy will continue to meet throughout the year. Upcoming discussions will focus on the importance of relationships, effective instruction, behavior support beliefs, and more. Educators who participate will be eligible for continuing education credits, Rangler said. “Everything we do at KRESA supports learning, so we’re all teachers in some way,” she said. “We hope this effort helps new teachers see what could be when we work together.”