New Teacher Academy Reveals Foundation of Support for Instructors

Hundreds of teachers—some brand-new and some just new to the Houston Independent School District (HISD)—gathered at the Kingdom Builders’ Center on July 29 for the start of the district’s four-day New Teacher Academy.

The event is designed to provide HISD’s newest instructors with an overview of the district, its expectations for their performance, and the many tools available to assist them, both in the classroom and out of it.

“This is not a situation where you’re going to be on your own,” said Assistant Superintendent of Professional Development Lance Menster. “Over the next few days, we are going to be talking about planning, instruction, and district policies and procedures, so you will know what to teach, when to teach it, and how to teach it.”

Menster emphasized that there are a number of support systems already in place to aid teachers, and a few that are set aside specifically for the district’s newest instructors.

“Each new teacher will be assigned a mentor during the next week to assist them throughout the year,” said Menster, “and the district’s teacher development specialists, key teachers, and appraisers will also be available to provide additional feedback and constructive criticism. This is the beginning of a lifeline of support for you. We also have video examplars of excellent teaching available on the PSD website that provide tangible methods and strategies you can easily incorporate into your instruction.”

The promise of support was welcome news to many attendees, as that was a key factor cited by several in their decision to join Team HISD.

“I have friends who work in the district, and I’ve heard great things about it,” explained Veronica Callegari, who came from Alief ISD and will start teaching at the Mistral Early Childhood Center in August.

“The initial training got me fired up,” added Mary Flugence, a ten-year veteran of Fort Bend ISD who will teach fifth-grade reading at Foster Elementary School this fall. “And I appreciate having all the supports in place, the help of having someone to turn to along the way. You cannot be an island. You have to be a team.”

HISD has hired more than 1,600 new teachers since January of this year.

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