Jerry Castaneda: Thoughts on the Pathway

My name is Jerry Castaneda. My formal name is Heriberto Castaneda, but everybody calls me Jerry. I am a Human Resources Administrator here at Laredo ISD. I’ve been with the department for a little over five years, and I’ve been with the district for 30 years in many roles, including teacher, test facilitator, assistant principal, and now, Human Resources Administrator.

The biggest need, of course, is filling vacancies from K through 12. The most challenging area is secondary education, specifically in math and science. It’s usually difficult to find teachers in these subjects because many college students take different career paths and then decide to become teachers without the formal training. However, we use alternative certification programs to fill those positions.


Another challenge is finding EC through 6 teachers. We have a good pool of candidates supplied by the local university, but one of the challenges these teachers face is obtaining bilingual certification, which is required by the federal government. This certification involves two exams, and one of them is 100% in formal Spanish. Although Spanish is the second language for most of us, formal Spanish, with its accents and complexities, is challenging for some graduates. For example, if I read a newspaper in Spanish, I might have to read it a couple of times to fully understand it.


Some teachers pass these exams quickly, and we ask them to support others who are struggling. They participate in study sessions and help on Saturdays because it’s difficult to find time during the week. We also offer exam review sessions with two resources that provide Texas certification exam reviews. We bring in teachers who have passed to share their strategies, such as forming study groups or focusing on specific domains of the exam.


I sometimes feel that the teaching career doesn’t hold the same level of prestige as professions like architect, lawyer, doctor, or accountant. Teachers often take a backseat in comparison. I hope that one day, teaching will be held in higher esteem, which might encourage more young people to join the field of education. At job fairs, we often encounter very few individuals interested in becoming teachers. We need to build up interest in the teaching profession, which is a challenge. But with the support of the community and universities, we can get that going.

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