The Lafayette Parish school system plans to begin a mentoring program for new teachers as a way to provide more professional development of novice educators in the classroom.

While it’s been an existing need in the school district, the work on developing such a program that would pair new teachers with veterans stems from preparations the district is making for an accreditation visit in February from evaluators with AdvancED, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that evaluates educational institutions. The accreditation process is voluntary and school systems typically opt to participate as a way to receive recognition that best practices are being used, school officials have said. To prepare for the review, instructional and management practices are assessed.

“We see a need for a mentoring program for new teachers to receive that additional support, especially during the first two years,” said Annette Samec, the school system’s chief academic officer.

Currently, new teachers receive a three-day, new teacher induction or training workshop, and then additional support is left up to the schools, Samec said.

“We need to develop something at the district level and are preparing a district program similar to what UL is doing,” she said, referring to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s revamp of its teacher preparation program into a yearlong residency where aspiring teachers are paired with a veteran teacher for a year.

A few years ago, the school system had a team of support teachers who acted as mentors and assisted new teachers through classroom visits during the teachers’ first three years in the district. That mentorship model disbanded amid budget struggles, though a list of instructional coaches — who help all teachers on a campus — was created. Samec said the goal is for the district to create a districtwide mentor program focused on new-to-the-classroom teachers.

“We’d also like to develop small groups of teachers in the district to support each other, and we are also looking into bringing back retired educators to serve as mentors. We’re trying to figure out what that would look like — if it’s on a volunteer basis or if they’d receive stipends,” Samec said.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.