Six Dallas ISD teachers got the chance to work outside of their classrooms in a newly developed summer internship program.
The district’s Human Capital Management (HCM) created the internship to benefit the teachers, but also use their perspective to refine several initiatives. The six teachers were chosen from nearly 400 applicants.
Abby Mayer, who coordinated the project for HCM, said that the Central Office Leader Internship came from wanting to have insight from teachers on some of our major HCM initiatives such as New Teacher Support and Teacher Career Pathways, but also offer leadership opportunities to current educators allowing them to have a larger impact on students across the district.
“The interns are working on critical initiatives that directly affect teachers at every campus,” Mayer said. “Their hard work, research, proposals and finished products allow them to extend their impact beyond being a leader in their classroom or on their campus, but to all the teachers and students in the district.”
Finding a niche
Personal loss sparked a career change from the architecture and design industry for intern Seanette Haynes. She is the Vocational Compliance Teacher and Special Education Department chairwoman at South Oak Cliff High School. She had originally wanted to teach something like art, or drafting and design.
“After some more research, Special Education seemed to be the right fit for me,” Haynes said. “Seven years have passed since that time and I’m still working in the area of Special Education and have experienced lessons of growth, success and career advancement.”
Her internship centered on Teacher Pathways, which helps teachers looking to step into leadership roles inside and beyond their classrooms.
“Dallas ISD in on the leading edge of transformation concerning student success, so this program for this purpose will excite, motivate and propel employees to rediscover their passions for professional growth while facilitating learning experiences,” Haynes said. “My interest in this internship provided the opportunity outside the classroom to further grow my interest in becoming a leader of people working to make a change for successes in business and life.”
Keeping the best
For Robert Hobbs, the path to teaching was not direct, either. As a volunteer in college, he knew he wanted to do something that mattered. It took a few misfires before he switched his major to education and never looked back.
Last year, he was the AVID coordinator and AVID Elective teacher at Raul Quintanilla Middle School. Before that, he taught reading language arts for six years at Medrano Middle School.
His internship had him work to find ways to recruit and retain excellent student teachers.
Hobbs earned his teaching certification the traditional way, which he said helped him when he became a full-time teacher. The transition was easy, he said, because of all the support from administrators and fellow teachers at Medrano.
“Part of me feels like I missed out on an important teacher right of passage, but I am forever grateful,” he said. “I was excited to go to work everyday, and I’m fortunate to still feel that way seven years later.”
That’s not the case for all teachers, though. Hobbs said he knows first- and second-year teachers are often hard to keep. “Dallas ISD student teachers know the level of commitment needed to make our students successful, so when they want to continue as teachers in the district, we know we’re getting someone who has what it takes to last,” he said.
Approaching his internship project, Hobbs said he wanted to learn as much as he could about partnerships between the district and area universities.
“But the best thing I’ve learned is this: as a classroom teacher, every year I am able to work alongside some of the most hard-working and competent people I’ve ever met.,” he said. “It has been so eye-opening that the same level of competence and the same work ethic can be found outside of campuses as well, and that the level of commitment to the kids of Dallas ISD doesn’t waver from campus to central office.
“The kids are still the focus of everyone’s work. I have been so impressed with the work that goes on here at HCM and the people that make it happen.”
Making TEI better
Angela Fulbright is moving from Sarah Zumwalt Middle School, where she was Social Studies Department chairwoman and taught eighth-grade U.S. History and sixth-grade World Cultures, to L.G. Pinkston High School. At Pinkston, she teach U.S. History in Advanced Placement classes in the collegiate academy there and also regular classes.
Her path to teaching started as a Sunday school teacher.
“My first career out of college was retail in management, but I found that I really loved preparing exciting lessons and interacting with the children in my Sunday school class,” Fulbright said. “So I decided to enter the Alternative Certification program for the Dallas ISD, and have been teaching ever since. I am entering my 18th year of teaching.”
Her internship focused on how to best use input from the steering committee that advises changes to the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI).
“Working with the TEI team I am more convinced that the merits of the system are truly designed to support effective instruction,” Fulbright said. “Over the last few weeks, I have observed and supported a team that is constantly trying to perfect the understanding and implementation of the Teacher Performance Rubric, not just for teachers but for all levels of administration.”
She joined Zumwalt along with three-quarters of the current staff when the campus joined the Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) program. But she said she’s a high school teacher at heart, and looks forward to contributing to another major district initiative – the collegiate academies. She’s already collaborated with several members of the Pinkston faculty through a Future Campus Leaders program led by Executive Director Joe Miniscalo.
“This experience has helped me to see that HCM is very invested in what happens in my classroom,” Fulbright said. “I am thankful for that insight.”
Keely Jackson, who teaches eighth-grade Pre-AP language arts and creative writing at William B. Travis Academy for the Academically Talented and Gifted, found her love for teaching while in college.
“I initially wanted to be a civil rights lawyer,” Jackson said. “But when I began tutoring at a high school during my Junior year in college, I knew that my true calling was teaching. “
Her internship focused on Professional Development opportunities.
“Having a growth mindset is essential for adults and students,” Jackson said. “As teachers, we not only have to be life-long learners in order to stay abreast of current research and best practices but also in order to be excellent examples of knowledge-seekers for our students.”
Jackson said she will take back to campus the importance of using all the development opportunities the district offers.
“This internship gave me a new appreciation for all of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into making sure that classrooms are available and that the technology works, copies are run, posters are made, eating options are available, etc.,” she said. “In addition, the Professional Development department also creates virtual training for teachers and staff, and they work with all departments to ensure that training is available based on the needs of that department.”
Jackson said she enjoyed working with Angie Gaylord, executive director of Professional Development. “(The internship) has also shown me that HCM truly cares about all teachers in the district through their continuous efforts to develop new ideas and projects that positively impact teachers.”
Mayer said that coordinating the internship has been a boost for her and many in HCM.
“It’s been enlightening and rewarding to work side-by-side these amazing teachers who are the ones in the classrooms implementing the programs and initiatives of central staff,” she said. “As a former teacher, and someone who has been out of the classroom for a few years, having this ‘teacher time’ helps us feel re-connected to the students in the classrooms and all the campus staff we serve.”
Next summer, the Central Office Leader Internship could expand to allow teachers to assist and learn about other Dallas ISD departments.