Before 106,000 students arrive for the first day of school on Aug. 26, a brigade of new teachers first need to be schooled.
More than 600 new and new-to-Northside ISD teachers went “back-to-school” during New Teacher Academy, an intense multi-day professional development designed to share the culture and the expectations of South Texas’ largest school district.
Northside’s newest staff members are a mix of veterans from other districts, professionals who decided to change careers, and teachers straight out of college. Many are home-grown in Texas and San Antonio; others are from as far away as Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida, Utah, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, and Massachusetts.
Two first-year elementary teachers participating in New Teacher Academy are also products of Northside ISD and fellow students. Gabby Parker and Nadine Al-Hamaydeh both attended Stinson Middle School and Brandeis High School, graduating in 2012. They were excited to find each other at the New Teacher Academy.
“I’m excited to be a part of an amazing team and am ready to start building solid relationships and connections with my students and their parents,” said Gabby Parker, who will teach Pre-Kindergarten at Boone Elementary School.
Starting the school year as a second grade English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Colonies North Elementary School Al-Hamaydeh agreed, stating “I’m really excited about all the diversity of my school. As a person of Middle Eastern descent who speaks Arabic, I want to be a role model for my students. I can’t wait to create a fun, learning environment for each and every student.”
(Pictured left to right: Nadine Al-Hamaydeh and Gabby Parker.)
Those teaching at the secondary level are just as excited about the new school year.
Although in his third year teaching, Luis Ramos is new to teaching in NISD but not new to the district. He is a 2012 graduate of Warren High School, and will serve as a new band director at Jay High School.
He admitted to being a little nervous, stating “Northside ISD has this huge name, reputation, and best traditions, and I don’t want to let them down.”
“I’m excited to help build the band program at Jay,” he added. “The students have already been very welcoming to me during band camp.”
(Pictured: Luis Ramos)
Brittany Valdez, a 2014 graduate of Brandeis High School, is in her first year of teaching and will start the dance program at Folks Middle School.
It is also a family affair for Valdez. Her cousin Kaelen Morrow, a 2010 graduate of O’Connor High School, is also new to NISD and will serve as the new head volleyball coach and a special education teacher at Taft High School. In addition, her mother and aunt both work in the district.
“I’m excited to start the dance program at Folks,” she said. “I’ve already have seven classes and I’ve been reaching out to all the other middle school dance teachers for advice.”
She said she was most nervous to understand the process and how the district operates. But reflecting on New Teacher Academy she said, “It’s exciting because everyone here is also new.”
(Pictured from left to right: Brittany Valdez and Kaelen Morrow.)
One of the things that new teachers learn at New Teacher Academy is about the support services they receive from the District, including mentorship programs and extensive curriculum and instructional resources and staff development opportunities.
“Northside ISD is well known throughout the state for its support of teachers,” says Diana Ely, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. “Our goal is to help them be successful.”
Speaking with the teachers during the orientation, Northside Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods told the teachers that they had made the right career choice.
“You couldn’t have picked a better profession to be in,” Woods said. “The job you do is the most important job anyone can do.”
“You are the most powerful advocate for education,” he told the group. “You need to tell the positive stories that happen in the classroom each and every day.”