• Teachers Like You

    Rickey Townsend

    Rickey Townsend Meet Mr. Rickey Townsend! Mr. Townsend is a 7th grade math teacher at Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy. He is a proud alumni of South Oak Cliff High School and completed his student teaching with Dallas ISD and the Dallas Teacher Residency Program. The Recruitment Team had a chance to speak with Mr. Townsend at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, as he was beginning his 4th year at Benjamin Franklin.

    Mr. Townsend, can you describe your clinical teaching experience with Dallas ISD?
    My clinical teaching experience was unique in that the Dallas Teacher Residency offered me the chance to student teach for 1 full year, rather than 1 semester. This timeline afforded me the opportunity to see students grow, learn, and develop from August to June, and allowed me to own being a teacher, rather than student teacher. At the end of my clinical teaching year, I was offered a math position on campus, and have been here ever since.

    How did you foster a partnership with your cooperating teacher?
    Over the course of my clinical teaching; my cooperating teacher and assistant principal would observe my lessons and offer feedback on my teaching practices. I found that accepting feedback was powerful and transformative to my professional growth. If you can build strong relationships with teachers and colleagues, it will only help build your relationship with your students. Now, I have the privilege of serving as the cooperating teacher for a clinical teacher, and I work to ensure the clinical teacher feels a sense of autonomy over the classroom. At the end of the day, it is important for both the clinical and cooperating teacher to feel that they are both the teacher, and to relay this message to students and families.

    What advice would you give to a clinical teacher at Dallas ISD?
    Know students by name. It is crucial to know students as individuals and build a relationship with them. In terms of building a partnership with your cooperating teacher, be sure that you articulate with your cooperating teacher what you want to accomplish by October, by December, by the end of the school year. When your clinical teaching position is over and you’re out by yourself, it’s a completely different experience. That’s why it’s critical to leverage the opportunity to co-plan with your cooperating teacher and lead teach at least two periods per day.

    Any final thoughts before we wrap up the conversation?
    I am a product of Dallas ISD and I am proud to give back to the community that served me. I don’t see myself leaving DISD for any other teaching opportunity. Lastly, I cannot speak highly enough of the Dallas Teacher Residency program for equipping me with the skills to grow as a clinical teacher.

    Sandra Gonzalez

    Meet Ms. Sandra Gonzalez! Ms. Gonzalez is a teacher at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary. She completed her student teaching with Dallas ISD and the Texas Tech University Alternative Certification program. Ms. Gonzalez is in her 1st year as a full time teacher, and she is teaching 1st grade.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your clinical teaching experience? What was the best part about your time as a clinical teacher and what was your biggest challenge?
    I loved the experience. I learned a lot and I feel pretty confident to apply all that knowledge; I just went to a training about running records and it was basically what I learned in the program! That made me feel very prepared. From the people I worked with during the program I couldn’t be more happy of getting to know them, I had an amazing mentor, he is very organized and applies all the district initiatives, also having Ms. Baptista as our site coordinator meant a lot, I had previously heard some bad experiences with other ACPs, but Ms. Baptista was an incredible support at all times, I could feel she wanted us to success, I really like how she gives feedback and has high expectations, and last but not least my coworkers, I even have the fortune to work with one of them in the same school, we really formed a group and always share information, news, everything that could help each other, and it feels so good to start the first year as a teacher with that support, including emotional!! On the other hand, the challenging part was doing everything at the same time, online modules, taking the tests to be a bilingual teacher and being in the classroom full time, it was hard but totally worth it.

    Why did you choose to continue on as a full-time teacher at Dallas ISD?
    I started as a substitute teacher with the district, when I was covering a long term position I realized I wanted to do that, being a teacher and having my own classroom. Also, I have met incredible people in the district, people that have helped me without knowing me, and I fell in love with the students and their families.

    What advice would you give to a prospective clinical teacher?
    My advice for the program is to keep organized, have an agenda and keep track of the deadlines, plan ahead for the required tests, that’s the key, It is possible!

    What advice would you give to an international candidate on the process to teach at Dallas ISD?
    The education system is really different than in Mexico, so you should be open to new ways of teaching, I personally have find them awesome. And don’t ever be afraid of the language, it is all about practice!

    Ashley Miller

    Ashley Miller Meet Ms. Miller! Ms. Miller is student teaching in general education at Ascher Silverstein Elementary School, and has had exposure teaching Kindergarten and 5th grade.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your clinical teaching experience? What was the best part about your time as a clinical teacher and what was your biggest challenge?
    So far, the best part about my time as a clinical teacher has been learning from my mentor teacher, Mrs. Garcia-Davis. She is excellent at classroom management, so it was the most incredible experience to observe how she started the first week of school, teaching the kindergarteners how her classroom will work and implementing classroom rules/procedures. I would say that my biggest challenge has probably been figuring out how to acclimate to the full schedule of a teacher, as well as learning how to keep myself healthy. I've already gotten sick quite a few times!

    What are your teaching goals within Dallas ISD?
    My goal is to get a special education job in Dallas ISD, but I am also open to teaching general education. I would love to continue on as a full time teacher at Dallas ISD because I am passionate about the city of Dallas and the students here. I firmly believe in Dallas ISD and want to create an encouraging, equitable environment for my Dallas students.

    What advice would you give to a prospective clinical teacher?
    Try to be as involved in your campus as you possibly can. Attend the professional development week before school officially starts--this helped me get to know the faculty and staff at Silberstein before school even started. Go to staff meetings, even if you aren't required to attend. Take notes any time a seasoned teacher or staff member gives advice. And most importantly, get to know your mentor teacher and befriend them. Try to be as helpful as possible--this will go a long way.

    Nidia Santos Vidales

    Nidia Santos Vidales Meet Ms. Nidia Santos Vidales! Ms. Santos Vidales is currently a 2nd grade self-contained bilingual teacher at Roberts Elementary School and a former clinical teacher with the Texas Tech University Alternative Certification Program.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your clinical teaching experience? What was the best part about your time as a clinical teacher and what was your biggest challenge?
    I had a great experience! I was in a 3rd grade class with an experienced teacher so I learned a lot about teaching strategies and classroom management. I also had the opportunity to do 3 performance assessments and prepare the classes following the teachings that I learned at Texas Tech University’s AC program. The best part regarding my time as a clinical teacher was the interaction with students in a real classroom environment, teaching real lessons, and experiencing day to day our profession’s praxis, there is no better way to prepare someone who wants to be a teacher. My biggest challenge was to learn about classroom management strategies and its implementation. As we know, classroom management is very important, and a good teacher should be aware of how and when to implement this kind of strategies in his/her classroom.

    Why did you choose to continue on as a full-time teacher at Dallas ISD?
    I decided to continue with Dallas ISD because I share its values ​​and Mission. I was a Teacher’s Assistant here for two years so I know firsthand the huge impact that our district has in our community, and how teachers can really make a difference in the lives of thousands of students. I also believe that Dallas ISD supports its teachers with continuous preparation and improvement.

    What advice would you give to a prospective clinical teacher?
    My best advice is that any person who wants to become a teacher should find in his/her heart the passion to change student’s lives through education.

    What advice would you give to an international candidate on the process to teach at Dallas ISD?
    I would tell an international candidate that Dallas is a good city to live in and Dallas ISD is a great place to make a contribution to society by helping to educate their students. Yes, there is a lot to do and it can be overwhelming at the beginning but eventually you will adapt and you will see that it is worthand rewarding to be a teacher in our community.

    Jeanette Sambucetti

    Jeanette Sambucetti Meet Ms. Jeanette Sambucetti! Ms. Sambucetti is in her 4th year of teaching at Dallas ISD. She taught for 1 year at Walnut Hill Elementary School and is now teaching at Rosemont Elementary School.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your classroom?
    I am a bilingual teacher and am part of Dallas ISD’s dual language program, which means that my classes are taught in both English and Spanish. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I teach in Spanish and on Tuesday and Thursday I teach my classes in English. Approximately 60% of my students are English-dominant, which means they speak mostly or all English at home, and the other 40% of my students are Spanish-dominant. The dual-language program allows students to come out of the program fully bilingual.

    I know you had previous years of teaching experience at other districts. What would you tell any veteran teacher who is exploring career opportunities at Dallas ISD?
    Being a veteran teacher is the best way to have the opportunity to move up the salary scale rapidly. If you have 3 years or more of education experience, you are automatically eligible to apply for DTR (Distinguished Teacher Review). I already came in [to the district] with experience under my belt, and although I started out about $2000 fewer than at my charter school, within one year at DISD, I had a $20,000 pay increase as an Exemplary I teacher. The following year I was Exemplary II, and now I am working on becoming a master teacher.

    As a veteran teacher, how does your experience teaching at DISD compare to your experience in other districts?
    I’ve been able to grow so much professionally in my years at Dallas ISD. Last year at Walnut Hill, my school leadership sent me to amazing training in Orlando, where I received intensive bilingual teacher training and was able to learn from the best of the best. I know of other colleagues whom have traveled to conferences in Chicago and New York. Next year, I hope to present at the NABE (National Association for Bilingual Education) conference and work on my Distinguished Teacher Review portfolio. In addition to the opportunities to attend national conferences, I have also been offered pathways to becoming an instructional coach and assistant principal. For now, I will be remaining in the classroom, but I feel fortunate that in just over 3 years in the district, I have been able to gain leadership skills and represent Dallas as an educator and leader.

    How would others find similar success at Dallas ISD?
    I would say that a successful teacher finds his or her own path at DISD. Success isn’t about the quantity of the roles and responsibilities take on; rather it’s about the quality of the work you do. I am constantly disseminating data. I’m intentional about who I have in my small group, how many times, and where students need to grow. My goal is not for students to pass, but rather, to master the content. I tell this to my students so often, that they have internalized this belief, as well. They think, “Wow, my teacher really believes in me and my growth,” and it helps them believe in themselves and their ability to achieve.

    What final advice would you give to a prospective teacher?
    One piece of advice is to be receptive to the idea that you can never stop learning and growing as a teacher. It is crucial to set that time in the beginning of the year in order to be very strategic about your long-term goals and your students’ learning objectives. Every year in August, I ask myself: What can I give back to my school? In my second year with the district, I implemented interactive science journals to help improve students achieve in science. This year I am focused on socio-emotional learning, and I am working with the counseling department to help teachers purchase calming apps to implement in the classroom. I also coordinated Hispanic Heritage Month on my campus and my students and I displayed posters around our school. One of my students even made a pinata and included all the facts about her home country. To culminate this experience, we invited the parents and community to a gallery walk of our work. With DISD, you never stop growing, as a teacher, leader, and community member, and I don’t see myself leaving the district anytime soon.