A new partnership with the University of Houston’s College of Education will bring 17 student teacher residents into Spring Branch ISD schools this year.
The residents will spend a full school year with mentor teachers and multi-classroom leaders to put their university learning into direct practice with students in high needs areas including: secondary math and science, special education, bilingual classes in grades three through five, among others.
The residency program, compared to a shorter student teaching rotation, gives the residents a more integrated experience and more support so they are more prepared to become full-time teachers. For the year of their residency, cohort members will receive pay related to their work in the classroom to help with college expenses.
Four schools in the district will pilot the residency program this year: Spring Woods High School, Spring Oaks Middle School and Pine Shadows and Westwood Elementary Schools.
Already off to a great start as a student teacher resident at Westwood Elementary is Azucena Huerta, a senior at the University of Houston majoring in Early Childhood-6th grade Bilingual Generalist.
A product of Spring Branch ISD, Huerta was in a bilingual program in her early grades at Treasure Forest Elementary, eventually graduating from Northbrook High School in 2018.
Huerta was inspired to become a teacher by her calculus teacher at Northbrook, Jonathan Claydon. “I noticed how different his teaching style was compared to my previous teachers, which resulted in a lot of students like myself being motivated to learn,” she said.
Selected for the residency program based on qualifications set by the district, Huerta will work with and learn from mentor teacher, Marcela Hernandez in her third grade, bilingual classroom at Westwood.
“It will be great to have her in my classroom this year,” Hernandez said. “As our students come back to school, we know there will be a variety of learning supports needed after the challenges of last year.”
“Coming back to Spring Branch ISD [in this program] is an opportunity for me to impact my community in a positive way through teaching and helping my students grow as individuals,” Huerta said.
Residents in the program will also receive support and guidance from multi-classroom leaders like Halam Tran at Westwood Elementary.
“You can ask me anything; I am very transparent,” Tran told the new resident. “I will help you look at data to understand what changes and additional supports a student may need to be successful.”
“The data will also tell us which small groups of students to pull for additional learning time,” Hernandez added, excited to know her student teacher will be available to assist.
Huerta will join these mentors in grade level planning meetings to gain other insights about what it takes to be a great teacher.
“What excites me the most about being in the program is being able to have a better idea of what it is like to be a teacher, build relationships and strategies,” she said.
“We hope that through experience, the residents gain great skills which will benefit them as they prepare to step into their own classrooms,“ Executive Director of Talent Allison Tennyson said. “And we hope they will return to be teachers in Spring Branch ISD!”