A New Chapter: English teacher Jackie Corso transitions to a teacher mentor

A New Chapter: English teacher Jackie Corso transitions to a teacher mentor

Chetana Ramaiyer

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Corso with her now-husband when she graduated with her Masters in Education from UC Berkeley in 2010.

After eight years teaching English at MVHS, Jackie Corso will be packing up room C104 and taking on a new challenge as one of four Fremont Union High School District teacher mentors for the 2017-19 school years.

Teacher mentors are tasked with helping teachers who are fresh out of their credential programs or who have taught for years but are new to the district. Corso hopes to    foster a sense of confidence among these teachers as they familiarize themselves with a new environment.

“When you’re a student teacher you have experience teaching in a classroom, but once it’s your own classroom it’s very different and it can be very hard the first year or two,” Corso said.

Corso has been thinking abut applying to be a mentor for a few years. Corso was a master teacher helping student teachers learn the craft for three years. She was also an AVID teacher for four years and the lead teacher of the World Core PLC. Coordinator of Academic Interventions for FUHSD Josh Maisel described how Corso has shown “exceptional leadership and dedication to [MVHS] staff and students” in the email announcing her position.

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Corso pictured with her 2015 AVID team during their field trip to Monterey—from left to right: Pooja Hajjarian, Jackie Corso, Pamela Chow, Nico Flores, and Michelle Balmeo

“Over the course of her career, she has shown exceptional leadership and dedication to our staff and students. She was a founding teacher of the [MVHS] World Core program and now serves as the Team Lead,” Maisel wrote. “Jackie has earned wide respect from new and veteran teachers alike for her collaborative spirit, her strong organizational and technology skills, and her focus on continual growth and development for herself, her colleagues, and most importantly, our students.”

According to senior and AVID 12 student Marcus Haraguchi, Corso has taught her class a lot of life skills over the past four years that parents didn’t necessarily teach at home, such as how to apply for financial aid, scholarships and finding out one’s like target, reach, and safety schools. Corso has been building the class of AVID 12 up, over the past four years, into adults ready for the future.

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Corso with her AVID12 class at Santa Clara University last semester. Field trips to local colleges and universities are some of the activities AVID has to offer its students.

“I think [MV] will definitely be missing a good teacher for Language Arts and for AVID,” Haraguchi said.

As a teacher mentor, Corso won’t stay in one classroom or be with one teacher as teacher mentors are spread out across multiple different sites in the district, assigned to where the most teacher support is needed. According to Corso, if there are many new teachers at MVHS next year, she will most likely spend a significant amount of time at MVHS. Working with multiple different teachers, Corso will help with anything   from teaching strategies to small things like how to make copies.

“There’s so many things to learn when you’re a teacher coming into a new school. You have to learn what’s the procedure if I’m going to be sick? What do I do if I need to make copies? You need a code to make copies,” Corso said. “So there’s a lot of little things that you don’t necessarily think about that we help support with. [I will be getting them] used to the school, helping them with the basics of the job and then helping them to continue to develop as good teachers.”

Corso will be traveling to observe and meet with her mentees at MVHS and other schools in the district to ensure that they’re comfortable and are able to ask her any questions or for resources. Corso’s own experience with her teacher mentor when she had just started teaching had been positive. Her teacher mentor had been someone she could turn to for support, and Corso described it as a valued relationship where she was comfortable asking any questions, no matter how “dumb” they could be perceived as.

“It’s nice to have someone you can turn to for that and have that kind of support so I think there’s a lot of value in that relationship,” Corso said. “A big part of the job, I think is developing a good relationship so that way the new teacher feels comfortable asking questions and asking for help and feedback. Just kind of similar to like, teachers with students right? You want to have a good relationship so that way your students know that they can come to you if they need it.”

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Corso and guidance counselor Mr. Stiver twinning in 2014. The two both graduated from Cupertino High School and have been friends ever since.

Along with World Core teacher Hillary Barron, Corso introduced the World Core class to MVHS in 2010. This year, Corso served as co-chair of the WASC Accreditation Team with Biology and Chemistry teacher Supriya Moore and helped write the 65-page mid-cycle WASC Accreditation Report. She was also honored as MVHS’s certified employee of the year, voted on by students and staff.

“I think [her new position] is a loss for MV but it’s a win for the district,” Barron said. She’ll be able to help support new teachers and bring her enthusiasm and dedication and problem solving skills to help them be successful as new teachers. So I’m really going to miss her, but I’m excited for her new opportunity.”

Although Corso will no longer be interacting with high school students on a daily basis, she is still looking forward to her next steps as a teacher mentor.

“I’m not going to be here anymore which is super weird and I’m not going to be able to interact with kids the same way, which is a bummer,” Corso said. “But there’s great opportunities for me to work with a lot of people and to see different schools … It’s going to be totally different; it’s a very different role. I’m very excited for it.”