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Program Gives Students Teaching Experience
 A first-year teacher at Hopper Primary and a product of the Ready, Set, Teach! Program at Sterling, reads a book to her first-graders.
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman

Michelle Santibañez, a first-year teacher at Hopper Primary and a product of the program formerly called Ready, Set, Teach! at Sterling, reads a book to her first-graders (from left) Miranda Patterson, Arturo Lugo and Drew Embleton.

Program Gives Students Teaching Experience

By: Susan Passmore
High school students interested in getting a taste of what it’s like to be a teacher before they decide on their careers are turning to the Education and Training Pathway. The program falls under the Public Services endorsement in Goose Creek CISD and is offered at Ross S. Sterling, Goose Creek Memorial and Robert E. Lee high schools. 

Ninth-grade students may choose to enroll in Principles of Education and Training, a new class for the 2017-2018 school year. Child Development is offered for 10th-graders. Instructional Practices, formerly known as Ready, Set, Teach!, is for 11th-graders, and Practicum in Education and Training is the course offered to seniors. Shannon Rogers and Leslie Hemmenway teach the classes at Sterling.

For the first few weeks of the school year, students in the Instructional Practices and the Practicum classes stay in the classroom and are provided with an overview of the teaching profession. They write lesson plans, work with classroom design and learn how to look up the TEKS. These courses are two class periods, so once they are assigned to schools, students have about an hour three days a week to assist teachers in their classrooms.

“They ride a bus from Sterling and sign in at the schools,” said Rogers. “We primarily work with Bowie, Crockett, Alamo, Clark, Travis, Ashbel Smith and Austin elementary schools.”

The 71 students in the RSS program go to three schools and are assigned mentor teachers at each school.

“They help students with testing, teach lessons and learn about daily routines and discipline. If a student needs to do make-up work, like a spelling test, our students can help with that,” Rogers said.

Michelle Santibañez is first-year teacher – she started in January - at Hopper Primary and is a product of the program at Sterling. She graduated from Lee College with an associate degree in teaching in May 2014 and from the University of Houston Clear Lake with a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary studies in December 2016.

As a high school student, Santibañez was in the Bay Area Education Recruitment and Retention Program (BAER2), a collaboration of Goose Creek CISD, Lee College and the University of Houston Clear Lake, which helps students who attend Lee College and transfer to UHCL to complete their degree and teaching certificate find opportunities for internships and employment. Through the Success Through Education Program (STEP), a partnership between UHCL and four area school districts as well as four community colleges, she received some scholarships for UHCL.

“I never thought this would be the career I would want to be in until Mrs. Rogers talked about the program and talked me into signing up when I was in 11th grade. It allowed me to see a classroom from a teacher’s point of view – seeing what it takes to plan lessons for students that all learn in different ways and how important it is to build positive relationships with my students,” Santibañez said.

Santibanez wanted to teach in Baytown because she had always lived in Baytown and had gone through the Goose Creek CISD school system, so she feels blessed that she has her own classroom and students.

“I wanted to give back to my community.” said Santibañez. “Also, Mrs. Rogers was and still is one of my biggest inspirations. She showed me what a loving and hardworking teacher looked like.”

This year, 18 Sterling students earned the opportunity to compete at the Texas Association of Future Educators State Competition. Blue ribbons were earned by Haile Miller and Samantha Vasquez in the Bulletin Board Contest; Paige Smith and Kayla Mixon for Teacher Created Materials for Elementary; Breanna Woodard and Zanel Ortega for Teacher Created Materials for Middle Schools; Shay Gilliam and Brenda Rodriguez for Teacher Created Materials for High School; Kassidy Gleason, Jarrett Wood and Alyssa Springer in the Portfolio Contest; Emily Blackford and Kayla Davila in the Scrapbook Contest and Emily Blackford and Jasmine Quiroz for Project Visualize Education Awareness. The students competed with more than 230 chapters from Texas at the contest in Arlington, and just preparing for the competitions was a learning experience.

Seniors Blackford and Gleason are in the Practicum in Education and Training course at Sterling, and their mentoring teachers at Alamo Elementary agree that everyone benefits from the program.

“I wish I had her every day,” said Lolly Schlager, dyslexia teacher and Gleason’s mentor along with Angela Morgan, special education teacher. “She helps kids learn sight words by constructing games. She tests them individually for me and lets me know which kids learned which words. Then, she makes flash cards for them to take home.”

Gleason is pleased with the opportunity to work with teachers and students, and she has a strong interest in becoming an educator.

“I love it! It’s really opened up lots of opportunities for me, and it’s helped me to be able to experience what it’s like to be in the classroom and to teach,” Gleason said.

Blackford works with Rachel Schimming and her 2nd-grade students, and she also plans to pursue a degree in education.

“This class has guided me to the path of what I want to do,” Blackford said.

Several other RSS graduates from the program work as paraprofessionals at schools, and some are working on teaching certificates. Elizabeth Hernandez, Emily Oaks and Petra Valencia work as aides at Alamo, while Kelsey Davis is at Baytown Junior.

Every year, Goose Creek CISD searches for the best teachers to fill vacant spots, and many of those hired are Goose Creek graduates.

“These Education and Training Pathway programs at our high schools are a wonderful way for the district to allow students who might be interested in becoming teachers to gain a little insight into the profession,” said Dr. Ron Wyatt, human resources director. “When students enter the program, they are actually beginning a process that can lead them right back to a Goose Creek classroom as a teacher as many of our students are able to take advantage of our partnerships with Lee College and the University of Houston Clear Lake through the Bay Area Recruitment and Retention program.” 


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