The average music educator now remains in the profession three years. Some Iowa schools, unable to hire degreed choral musicians, are now allowing non-degreed personnel to work with their choirs.
In response to these statistics and situations, ICDA has implemented a mentor program. A few years ago, ICDA sponsored what it called a mentor program; in reality, it was a buddy program. ICDA's new program bears only a limited resemblance to that endeavor and is now based heavily on research and professional training.
In launching the new mentor program, ICDA will first and foremost help young choral specialists in establishing themselves confidently in the profession. But just as importantly, it will also provide opportunities for seasoned conductors to retain their enthusiasm for their work and to reflect upon their methods and reasons for doing business in rehearsals, classes, and voice lessons.
ICDA's mentor program was developed under the leadership of Marcella Henderson. ICDA contracted Mary Brooks, site coordinator of district mentors for the West Des Moines Schools, to train selected mentors in each ICDA district. Those people began their training at the 1998 summer convention and reeived more specialized training at the 1999 summer convention. In the meantime, ICDA contacted all 1600 building principals in the state, notifying them of our program and asking them to encourage their first-year vocal and general music teachers to participate.
In February of 2000, Perry Bekkerus was appointed to succeed Henderson as the coordinator of the program. As Bekkerus began his term, he continued Henderson's work matching mentees with mentors and helping them to establish and maintain regular contact with one another informally via e-mail and phone conversations, as well as in person during ICDA events and programs throughout the year.
It became apparent early on that a coordinated effort between all professional music organizations was necessary to prevent some new teachers particularly at the elementary level from "slipping through the cracks." Since Bekkerus also serves as Mentoring Chair for the Iowa Music Educators Association, he began working on ICDA President Aimee Beckman-Collier's idea of a brochure that would be sent to all building principals in the state. This brochure would be sponsored by ICDA, IMEA, the Iowa Bandmaster's Association, and the Iowa String Teachers Association. The project, titled "Music Mentors of Iowa," would coordinate identification of potential mentees in all music areas Pre-K through 12, and would also share mentoring strategies between disciplines. Finally, it was felt that one brochure from all music organizations would make a stronger impact on administrators and generate a larger response than a letter from each organization alone.
If you would like to be a mentor, if you are a beginning teacher and would like a formal mentor, or if you would like further information about ICDA's mentor program, contact Perry Bekkerus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a beginning teacher — in your first, second, or third year — download the Beginning Teacher Guide. This handbook has the latest ideas on how to get started successfully in your new music classroom.
Handbook for the Mentee
If you are a mentor, download the Mentor Guide. This Handbook has the lastest information on how you can be a top-notch mentor for a new teacher. Mentors might also be interested in the Beginning Teacher Handbook as well.
Handbook for the Mentor