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Teacher Mentorships Build Success at HCZ Promise Academy

HCZ Promise Academy teachers Janel Strother and Latasha Bryan teach students in their classroom.
Above: HCZ Promise Academy teachers Janel Strother (left) and Latasha Bryan (right) formed a teacher mentorship that helps them succeed so their scholars can succeed.

In her third year at Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy, Janel Strother went from teaching kindergarten to teaching third grade math. The transition wasn’t easy. Third graders are a little bit more of a handful than kindergarteners. And, rather than teach a range of subjects, Ms. Strother had to develop and deliver specialized lesson plans for one subject.

Thankfully, as a teaching fellow, Ms. Strother was assigned to co-teach her class with a lead teacher, Latasha Bryan. Through this unique mentorship opportunity, Ms. Bryan helped Ms. Strother gain the skills and confidence to succeed in her new position.

“At HCZ Promise Academy, you don’t have to figure this all out on your own — you have an entire community by your side,” Ms. Strother said. “You never feel like you’re on an island by yourself. That is what makes our school community so special.”

At HCZ Promise Academy, we provide teachers with everything they need to succeed so that our scholars can succeed. Teacher mentorships are critical to that approach.

Keep scrolling to learn more about Ms. Strother and Ms. Bryan and teacher mentorships at HCZ Promise Academy!

Teachers learn from teachers

At HCZ Promise Academy, we provide everything our teachers need to succeed, from classroom resources to professional development to mentorship opportunities. Often, as is with Ms. Strother and Mr. Bryan, mentors are fellow teachers.

Though nervous at first, Ms. Srother is flourishing in her new role. The most critical lesson she learned from Ms. Bryan: the benefit of embracing new ideas and approaches from fellow teachers.

“After all, no one educator has all the answers,” said Ms. Strother, who is also an HCZ alum. “We learn from each other and incorporate other teaching styles to become the best version of our professional selves.”

Added Ms. Bryan: “Our scholars deserve the best education possible. We owe it to them to keep learning and growing.”

HCZ Promise Academy teaching fellow Janel Strother teaches her class of third grade scholars.

From Mentee to Mentor

Ms. Bryan was once a mentee herself. After starting at HCZ as a program aide, she worked her way up to lead teacher. She credits her success, in part, to school leaders who guided her along her career journey. 

Now, Ms. Bryan has become a mentor — supporting the next generation of HCZ Promise Academy educators like Ms. Strother.

“Mentorship is so important in a school environment,” Ms. Bryan said. “Sometimes, you might not have that confidence you need, and you might not know how to approach certain situations. But at HCZ Promise Academy, someone always has your back.”

Navigating challenges together 

Ms. Bryan may be Ms. Strother’s mentor, but their relationship is built on mutual support. Ms. Bryan and Ms. Strother are always learning from each other and cheering each other on. 

“With me, Ms. Strother knows giving up is not an option,” Ms. Bryan said. “She’s pushed herself out of her comfort zone, and I love that for her.”

Now, if Ms. Bryan is out, Ms. Strother can take over the class and deliver the lesson plan all on her own.

Janel Srother and Latasha Bryan work together in their classroom.

When teachers succeed, scholars succeed

At HCZ Promise Academy, teacher mentorships have a huge impact on our teachers. That impact trickles down to our scholars. 

That’s because, when our teachers have what they need to succeed, they are better able to help our scholars succeed — getting them to and through college and building bright futures. What’s more, when scholars see Ms. Strother and Ms. Bryan learning and growing together, it inspires them to do the same. 

“You can see Ms. Bryan wants her scholars to do well,” Ms. Strother said. “When I work with her, and see how much she cares, it inspires me to give the same to my scholars. I want them to succeed.”