Near the end of the 2016 New Teacher Academy (NTA), Adrienne Wright found a relatively quiet spot at Kingdom Builders Center to eat her lunch. She exchanged a few friendly “hellos” with new friends she made before reflecting on a busy yet informative week.
As she gets ready to begin her first year of teaching, she said she feels considerably more prepared for the first day of school than she did a week ago. Many of the 1,300 other attendees likely felt the same way.
“It’s actually been excellent,” said Wright, who will teach at Woodson K-8 Academy. The trainings have been excellent. Everything has been well-organized. I am so happy to be working at HISD because they have so much support for new teachers like me. They make me feel confident.”
Gail McGee, manager for Professional Support and Development, said the week-long event is designed to equip and empower teachers who are new to the district with the resources they need in order be effective teachers on the first day of school.
NTA is a collaboration between Onboarding & Organizational Development and the Professional Support & Development teams. Planning begins more than six months before as district representatives provide the information and resources new teachers need to help navigate their first year at HISD. This year’s theme was “Training Headquarters for Classroom Crusaders,” and offered training on effective instructional practices, curriculum resources, and networking opportunities for teachers and their campus coworkers.
“The professional network new teachers make during this event sets them up to support one another through this exciting and challenging endeavor in their lives,” McGee said. “New Teacher Academy focuses on specific, applicable skills everyone needs to succeed on the first days of school, and throughout their careers.”
Remeaga Washington, who also is entering her first year as a teacher, echoed McGee’s comments and added that the networking she’s done with other new teachers will be valuable during the school year.
“It’s been so helpful in the fact that all the development I’ve received will help me in my day-to-day job, which ultimately benefits the children,” said Washington, who will teach at Fonwood Early Childhood Center. “There were so many things I thought I knew, but now I have these connections (to help) when I have questions.”
Idrisa Abdul-Hamid, senior manager for Onboarding & Organizational Development, said the hard work by both coordinating departments is necessary to ensure HISD’s new teachers are ready and successful from day one.
“We engage, empower, and equip so they can excel,” she said. “Those four ‘E’s are so important when it comes to retention because they’re more likely to be successful and really boost student achievement.”