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Jan 21
Mentor 36 gives new Surrey teachers the support they need

Mentorship Matters - PART 1 from Surrey Schools on Vimeo.

It's a teacher's job to support their students' learning, but what about supporting teachers' teaching? That's where Mentor 36 comes in.

A partnership between Surrey Schools and the Surrey Teachers' Association (STA), Mentor 36 is a program for new teachers to be mentored by other teachers in the district as they navigate their first year. The program's vision includes designing a sustained culture of collaborative mentorship for teachers at every school in the district to support professional growth and a sense of belonging.

Rudy Kerkhoven, a teacher at Fraser Heights Secondary, shared his story of being mentored when he made the jump from teaching in an elementary school to Tamanawis Secondary, and how his mentor helped him overcome his struggles in a new environment.

"There was a colleague of mine there who embodied this calmness, this humility, this caring, and he was always eager to help me," said Kerkoven. "He wanted me to excel in the position... he remained my go-to for years afterwards asking questions."

Sadly, his mentor passed away years after, not without leaving a legacy. Kerkoven recalled the tremendous outpouring of support at a student-organized vigil where more than 1,000 people showed up, speaking to the impact of his mentor on so many.

"It was inspirational just seeing the impact that one calm, humble, caring person could have on a school, on its community," he said.

Currently in its fifth year, Mentor 36 has 311 participants and pairs mentors with mentees from the same school or family of schools. The program uses a strength-based approach to mentorship in a safe and trusting environment and teaches, among other qualities, how to:

  • build connections with students
  • have patience in the classroom
  • adapt to challenging circumstances
  • improve instructional strategies
  • take risks and chances
  • prioritize tasks
  • communicate

Mentor 36 is overseen by a Mentorship Advisory Team, with support from helping teachers and opportunities like new teacher socials and open houses, participation in Teacher Mentorship BC, and providing resources and learning materials to teachers.

The program uses feedback from new teachers and mentors to identify markers of success, such as a feeling of connection to schools, improved staff wellness and resiliency, social and emotional support and sense of community with colleagues.

And as we welcome 2021, the district hopes to continue to expand the mentorship program as Surrey Schools keeps growing and remains the largest school district B.C.

New teachers, or teachers interested in becoming mentors, can join Mentor 36 here. For more information on Mentor 36, visit


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