At a Glance
The Western Pennsylvania FCS Peer Mentor Program was a pilot project during the 2021-2022 school year. The program was developed to provide new Family and Consumer Sciences teachers with mentor support, professional development, and content-based resources.
Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) certified teachers are currently in high demand in Pennsylvania. Many teachers who enter the FCS classroom have added family and consumer sciences to their existing teacher certification. They may also be the only FCS teacher in their school or district. This pilot program was implemented to assist new teachers and those with limited FCS experience with the support of a peer mentor and other FCS resources. By participating in the program, the teachers would increase their content knowledge, develop FCS-specific best practices, network with other professionals, and increase their effectiveness in the classroom. Retention of qualified and effective FCS teachers is crucial to maintaining FCS programming in schools.
The IUP Center coordinated the program by contacting local administrators, professional organizations, and teachers. Mentors and mentees were recruited for the program from Western Pennsylvania schools. A planning committee consisting of Center staff, Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) staff, and FCS teachers helped to develop the program. FCS teachers were surveyed. Planning began in Fall 2021 in order to begin recruitment in December 2021. Experienced Family and Consumer Sciences teachers served as mentors to new FCS teacher to provide peer support and FCS content guidance. The matches were established with the following recommendations and support:
- Networking events with other matches, professionals, and teachers.
- Content-based resources and professional development opportunities (Act 48 hours available).
- Collaboration with FCS professional organizations for resources and support.
- The Peer Mentor does not replace the mentor within the school district induction program.
- Stipends and reimbursements are available for qualified mentors.
The participants met monthly as a group via Zoom to share progress, resources, and information. A monthly resource document was shared with participants. It included current and upcoming events, recommendations for the partners to discuss, and FCS-related topics.
An end-of-the-program event was planned in person at the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts. Members of the program planning committee, staff, and participants attended. The program included participant recognition, a professional development workshop, FCS resource materials for the participants to use in their classrooms, a culinary luncheon experience, program evaluation, and a discussion of plans for the future.
Recruitment of new teachers was difficult at first. Contacts were made with local districts, the Pennsylvania Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (PAFCS), and the PA chapter of the FCCLA to assist with finding new teachers. The IUP Center for Career and Technical Personnel Preparation sponsored the program with funds from the Department of Education’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education.
The IUP Center for Career and Technical Personnel Preparation sponsored the program with funds from the Department of Education, Bureau of Career and Technical Education.
IUP Center for Career and Technical Personnel Preparation.
Michelle Tweardy, Field-Based Instructor