HISD and Texas Southern University announce new partnership to train aspiring local teachers

Houston Independent School District (HISD) and Texas Southern University (TSU) this week launched the Learning Legacy Pact to help aspiring educators become teachers in HISD. Through the partnership, students in TSU’s College of Education will earn their teacher certification while getting paid to work as a Teacher Apprentice in the District’s New Education System (NES) or NES-aligned schools.

“There are things we can do to really move the needle ahead on transformation and also adjust to the workforce changes, and part of that is to get more teachers in a pipeline for education,” Superintendent Mike Miles said at a joint HISD/TSU press conference to announce the initiative.

The Learning Legacy Pact is an innovative approach to school staffing designed to increase academic support for HISD students and ensure they receive high-quality instruction every day.

“In forging this partnership, we proudly join with HISD in its efforts to provide next-level instruction to its 185,000 students and prepare those students to be the future of our great city’s workforce,” said TSU Board of Regents Chairman Brandon L. Simmons. “We also look forward to the opportunities for TSU-trained educators to enter the workforce through this pipeline program in the state’s largest school district, and the economic opportunities this partnership will unlock.”

Several TSU students enrolled in the program will begin serving as Teacher Apprentices in January. They will pursue their bachelor’s degree in education while working four days a week in an HISD classroom. After meeting certain criteria, the Teacher Apprentices are eligible for promotion to a teaching position with HISD.

“Teachers who serve as apprentices gain practical experience alongside veteran teachers, so they’re often more qualified to lead a classroom than those who have not had student teaching experience,” said Superintendent Miles.

Teacher Apprentices learn the NES instructional model and effective teaching practices, plan lessons with their assigned teacher(s), co-teach, and participate in the same professional development as core teachers. They also substitute as necessary.

HISD currently has nearly 500 Teacher Apprentices, effectively eliminating the need for substitutes in its NES and NES-aligned schools. If a classroom teacher has to be out, the apprentice—who is familiar with the lesson content and individual students—steps in.

“When we say a student does not miss a teacher contact day, we mean that,” said Sandi Massey, HISD Chief of Leadership and Professional Development. “Because of the Teacher Apprentices, the students actually get the same lesson they would have gotten with the teacher in the room. And that’s why this partnership is so valuable.”

The Learning Legacy Pact will allow HISD to continue to place educators in their own communities. Many of these aspiring teachers are also HISD graduates.

“When they’re in those classrooms and they’re seeing those students’ struggles, those are the struggles that they had. Living their reality, walking a mile in their shoes is incredibly powerful,” said Michael Ruiz, HISD Senior Executive Director of Leadership and Professional Development. “It’s partnerships like this that bring candidates like those into our classrooms to make a difference in the lives of students.

”The Learning Legacy Pact is an extension of HISD’s Grow Your Own teacher development work. Learn more here.