Teaching Experience Matters

Decades before he became the 2005-2006 New York State Teacher of the Year and was heralded as one of the nation’s leading educators, Stephen Bongiovi almost became something far less glamorous – fired.

The retired English teacher from Long Island was reviewing his personnel files as part of the teacher of the year application process when he received a shock – after his first year of teaching, at least one administrator recommended that he not be retained.

“Someone must have stood up for me,” Bongiovi said, because he was invited back and was allowed to continue what became a stellar career.

But at a time when education “reformers” are criticizing seniority-based layoff policies that prioritize teacher experience, or are advocating for alternative certification programs that may provide only a couple months of teacher preparation, Bongiovi’s story is a powerful reminder that great teachers are not made overnight. Experience matters.

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