Mentoring and Induction in Kokomo

Comprehensive supports for beginning teachers leads to improved teacher retention

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Featured Tool

Mentoring & Induction Toolkit 2.0

A ready-to-use resource for states working closely with districts to build strong mentoring and induction programs, the Mentoring and Induction Toolkit 2.0 helps states facilitate meaningful conversations with districts about the design and implementation of effective, high-quality mentoring and induction programs. 

Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and Kokomo School Corporation

Support development and piloting of a comprehensive mentoring and induction program


Kokomo saw teacher retention improve from 50 percent to 100 percent in all four pilot schools, and expanded the program district-wide. 

Dr. Chris Kate, IDOE
Dr. Teni Helberger, Director of Special Education and Assessment, Kokomo School Corporation.
Lisa Lachlan, GTL Project Lead
Lindsey Hayes, GTL Support


The Challenge

In a review of locally collected teacher retention data, Kokomo School Corporation learned that nearly half of those teaching in the district either moved to another district or left the profession within their first five years of service. 

The leadership team explored the data and determined that the lack of intentional and focused support after the first year, the low connection between new teachers and the community, and the limited opportunities for advancement were the primary causes of Kokomo’s low retention rate.

The Opportunity

With the support of the Talent for Turnaround Leadership Academy's  cross-state Mentoring and Induction Affinity Group, the Great Lakes Regional Comprehensive Center, and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), the leadership team decided that a comprehensive multi-year mentoring program would address those three causes. Through multi-year mentoring, teachers continue early career professional development with the close attention of seasoned educators. The mentoring program includes features intended to help new teachers find connections and take root in the school community. Finally, Kokomo is offering mentoring responsibilities to established teachers, providing valuable leadership opportunities not previously available.



The Approach

As part of the Mentoring and Induction Affinity Group, the Kokomo team participated in a series of six in-person and virtual workshops that supported the development of resources and processes to develop and implement a comprehensive teacher induction program. Outside the workshops, the team met regularly and used knowledge-building activities and resources from the GTL Center's Mentoring and Induction Toolkit 2.0 to facilitate a data dive, root cause analysis, induction program inventory, and other activities.

These activities led to:

  • the discussion and development of program goals;
  • concrete mentor selection criteria;
  • targeted professional learning materials for new teachers and mentors;
  • mentor and new teacher assessment plans based on teacher and mentor standards; and
  • a monitoring plan that includes unique surveys of mentors, teachers, and administrators to assess the quality and fidelity of the program.

Guiding Principles

Although Kokomo had an existing mentoring and induction program, like many states and districts, several critical features needed to be strengthened. According to Lisa Lachlan, GTL Center M&I Lead, "A lot of our Affinity Group teams had some type of mentoring and induction program in place, those programs weren't necessarily evidence-based or focused on best practices, so we took them through a series of workshops that really supported them in thinking through those best practices and evidence-based strategies to have a much more comprehensive and effective mentoring and induction program."

Project Outcomes

The Indiana team piloted the new mentoring program during the 2017–18 school year at four high-need schools in Kokomo. At the end of the pilot year, all four schools retained all their new staff. As a result, the new mentoring program was expanded to all 13 instructional sites in Kokomo in the 2018–19 school year.

Beyond Kokomo, the state team at IDOE developed a comprehensive online toolbox through Moodle that draws on the GTL Center's Mentoring and Induction Toolkit and aims to support the scale-up of comprehensive mentoring and induction programs across the state.

IDOE is piloting this course with four new districts committed to addressing teacher attrition in high-need schools with the goal that each district will be prepared to implement a comprehensive induction program in 2019–20. Once these four districts gain traction, the state team anticipates supporting additional districts through the course for statewide scale-up.

Indiana Moodle site

Client Perspective

"T4TLA has really helped Indiana and Kokomo really focus on how we can support our new teachers and help them be successful in their first couple of years of teaching."

—Kelly Wright, Pettit Park Elementary Technology Academy, Kokomo, IN

"It's great to be sitting at the table with partners who understand how important this is and how they impact our work in Indiana. We simply could not do this work without their help and we look forward to our continued partnership down the road."

—Staff Member, Indiana Department of Education

Video Clip

Video Clip

Kelly Wright, Principal at Pettit Park Elementary Technology Academy shares about how Kokomo worked with AIR to strengthen the district's mentoring and induction program as part of the Talent for Turnaround Leadership Academy