JET Re-Starts in Fall River and New Bedford

JET has returned to the southcoast urban school districts of Fall River and New Bedford, after several years of absence, to help paraprofessionals, who want to become licensed teachers in their communities, complete their bachelor’s degrees and teacher licensure. JET started on the southcoast with a federal education grant awarded to UMass Dartmouth in partnership with Bristol Community College and the Fall River and New Bedford school districts. JET is now a program of the non-profit Massachusetts Foundation for Teaching and Learning.

On June 13, JET staff welcomed a new cohort of 10 Fall River and New Bedford paraprofessionals at a joint meeting held at the New Bedford School administration building. These paras have successfully completed the JET onboarding processes for financial aid approval and college admissions. At the June 13 meeting, the cohort learned about the JET program components that will help sustain them in their multi-year journey to become a teacher. JET staff presented the new participants with “Program and Participant Commitments” that lists what participants can expect from JET throughout their time in the program (e.g ongoing support, individual mentoring, fostering peer support, professional development opportunities) as well as what JET expects from its participants (e.g. three mandatory meetings annually and prompt responses to JET emails). The list of commitments is intended to set the stage and set expectations for paras entering the program. JET has the support of the school district administrators We welcomed the enthusiastic remarks of Heather Emsley, Director of Human Capital Services in the New Bedford schools.

To help the new cohort get to know more about each other, JET staff engaged the group in two ice breaker activities. Both activities were interactive and required the group to move around a little bit, but they each had different goals. The first ice breaker was meant to establish a sense of community among the cohort. It was designed to have the paras identify others in the group who had shared interests. The second ice breaker was a follow up to the introduction of our “Program and Participant Commitments”. The paras created a “web” across the room and between each other by stating their intentions or goals one by one for the upcoming year with JET. We heard so many great goals shared by our paras including “keeping good time management” and “staying committed”. Taking turns at sharing intentions was determined by tossing a ball of yarn to another participant while holding onto the end. By doing this, the room ended up in a web of yarn with all paras connected to each other. The ice breaker showed the group that they are all connected and can act as a member of each other’s support system during their time in the JET program.

We are excited to welcome the Fall River and New Bedford paras once again to JET!!

Pam Herrup