The Begin Program

  • The Story of a District Helping New Teachers Succeed

    A Three-Year Teacher Induction Model

    The BEGIN Program, initiated in 1987, focuses on the successful assimilation of new teachers into the teaching culture through peer support and training opportunities.  Initially the BEGIN Program consisted of a one-year support model, but over the past several years has developed into a three-year model.  Today the BEGIN Program not only focuses on the successful assimilation of a new teacher into the culture of teaching but also “builds” a Washington School District teacher.  The content of the three-year model enhances the new teachers’ ability to demonstrate behaviors and values that will advance the core teaching standards.  The BEGIN Program also embeds the Washington School District Teacher Evaluation Process into the three-year model.  

  • Paula McWhirter
    Director of Curriculum & Instruction

  • Testimonials:
     “I was in the very first BEGIN group way back when.  It was extremely beneficial to me as a brand new teacher from another part of the country.  I had a support system, I made great friends, and I felt like I could do this very challenging yet rewarding job.  Twenty eight years later… Still doing it and still loving it thanks to my start in the BEGIN program!” Wendy Wittenwyler, John Jacobs School – Academic Specialist – BEGIN Alumni and Previous Cadre Leader
    I was hesitant to do BEGIN because of the time commitment, but I am so glad I did it. It is so nice having a group of teachers who are going through the same learning process as you are to talk to and share ideas with. I learn something valuable that I can use in my classroom each time I go to a BEGIN meeting. You get the very best professional development and gain a support system outside of your school. Oh, and my cadre leader, Janae Fuentes, makes each meeting feel like a party! I am so glad to be a part of the BEGIN program.” – Sierra Perkins, Shaw Butte – 2nd Grade Teacher – BEGIN II 2015
    “I am very passionate about mentoring BEGIN teachers and my goal is to be their BIGGEST cheerleader. I will help by giving them the resources and tools that they need to soar!” –Janae Fuentes, BEGIN I Cadre Leader – 2nd Grade - 2015 
     “As a first year teacher, BEGIN has provided me with support and knowledge that targets my specific needs. The information I have attained from my cadre leaders and classmates transfers directly into the classroom and ensures a greater chance of personal growth and success.–Matthew Lindahl, Alta Vista – 6th Grade Teacher – BEGIN I 2015
    “I began my teaching journey as an unearthed rock just picked up from of the ground.  I was dirty and scratched up unsure of how I would shape up to the rest of the teachers that I was now working with.  I was invited to join the BEGIN program where I was able to discuss, learn, and evolve my teaching practice with other new teachers and a cadre leader/mentor in the same grade level as myself.  In those three years my cadre groups and mentors helped dust off the dirt and helped polish and shine my teaching through encouragement and fine tuning my routines, procedures, management, lesson planning and implementation, and leadership skills.  My cadre leaders/mentors were always there for me even on late nights to polish me up when I felt that I was getting a little dusty or got a scratch along the way; always bringing me back to the essentials of teaching using the teacher evaluation process and the WESD Road Map to guide me.  My BEGIN experience has helped create long lasting teacher friendships and the teacher that I am today. 

    Now the tables have turned and I am now a BEGIN cadre leader.  I help and guide my newly unearthed little rocks through the highs and lows of the teaching world.  I am there for them to dust them off during tough times and cheer them on to shine during the good times.  Helping sculpt and polish each and every one of them at their own pace through cadre meetings,  classroom visits, letting them come in to watch as I model strategies and techniques, sending emails of encouragement, and guiding them through self-reflections upon their own teaching practices.  As this was done for me, with the teacher evaluation process and the WESD Roadmap, using them as tools to do what is best for children and as a teacher.  Knowing that with each rock I meet, I will be learning and still polishing myself.   I have found that each rock is unique and always brings something new that all of us can learn from, even myself.  My name is Melissa Rodgers, I am a BEGIN I Cadre Leader.  I mentor to dust, shine, and polish the new teacher leaders of today and tomorrow.” – Melissa Rodgers, Sahuaro – 2nd Grade Teacher – BEGIN alumni, BEGIN I Cadre Leader, Lamp of Learning Recipient