Before 106,000 students arrive for the first day of school on Aug. 28, a brigade of new teachers first have to be schooled.
More than 650 new and new-to-Northside ISD teachers went “back-to-school” during New Teacher Academy, an intense three-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 Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, California, Washington, and Nebraska.
The District’s theme for the 2017-2018 school year is “Northside Inspired,” and the new teachers are excited to get started and inspire their students to be successful.
“I am excited to be a part of opening a new campus and helping to build and enrich the environment and culture at the school, and make those important connections and relationships that build success,” says Brian Blickley, who will teach biology at all grade levels at the new Harlan High School.
“I was inspired by my AP Biology teacher, Yvonne Yzaguirre, when I was a student at Clark High School,” he said. “I also did my student teaching with her, so I want to pay it forward and inspire students to go beyond their expectations and realize that they can be successful as long as they try.”
Pictured is Brian Blickley, Harlan High School.
Blickley taught in North East ISD for three years before joining NISD. In contrast, Gabriela Fernandez is a first year teacher in a brand new town.
A Corpus Christi native and 2017 graduate of Texas A&M/Corpus Christi, Fernandez moved to town two weeks ago and was anxious to get a job with Northside ISD because of its great reputation. “I have already been inspired by the teachers presenting at New Teacher Academy this week,” says Fernandez.
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, director of Teaching and Learning. “Our goal is to help them be successful.”
Fernandez said she was inspired by her 7th grade Science teacher who taught in such a way that turned a subject that she didn’t like into one she enjoyed. “I want to inspire my students that way,” says the new sixth grade math teacher at Neff Middle School. “They may not love math in the end, but I at least want them not to hate it as much as they did.”
Pictured is Gabriela Fernandez, Neff Middle School.
Susana Benitez has 28 years in education, but this will be her first year in Northside. “It was like I was in the desert wandering, but I finally made it to the promise land,” she smiled. “Benitez is the new English Coordinator at Holmes High School and is excited to make new connections and relationships with both students and teachers.
She has several siblings who also work in Northside, one being a brother who worked at Holmes High School for two years before passing away. “I saw the leadership, compassion, and support given to our family during that time and I knew then that I wanted to be a part of this team and district family,” she said. “I can’t wait to inspire and motivate others to continue the legacy of this incredible campus.”
Pictured is Susana Benitez, Holmes High School.
Gabby Perry, a first year English I and IV teacher at Brandeis High School, is excited to be teaching in Northside ISD.
“When I decided to become a teacher, I just knew I needed to be in Northside,” she says. “There was no other option for me.” The 2017 graduate of UTSA is a product of the district having attended Thornton Elementary School, Rawlinson Middle School, and Marshall High School.
“My main goal is to inspire a passion in students for learning,” she said. “I know for many of them that reading and writing is not their favorite thing to do. I want to connect them to reading and writing in a way that will make them love it.
“I want to show them that reading and writing are tools that they will take with them the rest of their life,” she added.
Pictured is Gabby Perry, Brandeis High School.
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.”