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Mentor program helps new educators chart their way

Hans Griesser (left) and Brad Lewis (right) are two participants in the BISD mentor program.

 

Hans Griesser (pictured left) knows a thing or two about how to solve problems. Before becoming a math teacher at Bainbridge High School, Griesser worked as an engineer at Phillips where he helped design Automated External Defibrillators — the crucial devices that assist victims experiencing heart problems before the paramedics arrive. In fact, Griesser helped develop the very AEDs installed on the BHS campus.

A couple of years ago, however, Griesser felt like it was time for a professional change and sought out what was next. It soon seemed like all rays, equations and theories pointed to one solution: becoming a high school math teacher.

“My uncle was one of my inspirations. He worked at IBM for years and then became a math teacher,” said Griesser. “I worked for another year while earning my Masters in Education.  Teaching at BHS was always my goal. I know how impressive the school and the staff are. My children graduated from BHS (class of 2016 & 2018), I’m part of this community and this is exactly the job I wanted.”

Griesser is in his first year teaching and like all first-year teachers in the Bainbridge Island School District, was paired with a mentor to assist with navigating the details. Brad Lewis (pictured right), Griesser’s mentor and fellow math colleague, has taught for 25 years and said the purpose of the mentor program is to have a seasoned teacher be the point-person for new teacher questions — the type of questions often not covered in the teacher certification process. 

“Questions range from how to respond to emails from parents, what weight to give test questions and what to do during the Open House,” said Lewis. “Hans is a natural teacher and is able to manage all the chaos that comes with being a teacher. However, I’m here to help troubleshoot when problems arise.”

With classrooms located across the hall from each other, it’s easy for them to check-in frequently. 

“I really appreciate the support Brad gives me,” said Griesser. “If I get bogged down by the details, Brad helps me refocus by asking, ‘The students are learning the material, yes? Then you’re doing a great job.’ He helps remind me of my priority — the students.”

Mentors are identified by their principals as being leaders. They are masters of their craft who are interested in extending their professional development and supporting new educators. Prior to becoming a mentor, they must attend a three-day mentor training to learn how to support and coach new educators. The program began in 2016 and since then, more than 30 mentors have been trained. 

The program is funded by BISD, Bainbridge Schools Foundation and state grants.