Myrtala Ramirez: Thoughts on the Pathway

My name is Myrtala Ramirez. I am the Executive Director for Elementary Education, overseeing everything from Pre-K3 to fifth grade. My role includes supporting and supervising elementary principals. As the Executive Director, I promote teaching and aim to bring the best possible teacher candidates to my principals. I need to ensure there is a seamless pipeline between what students learn at the university and what we are doing here. There is no time for a learning curve; teachers need to be ready on day one.


I was part of the TAMIU student teaching program as both a student and a supervisor, so I understand the importance of being prepared from day one. Our incoming teachers are younger and very eager, but sometimes there are gaps between what they learned at the university and what we do in our district. For instance, we focus heavily on fundamental five practices, which they might not have learned. They also need to be familiar with our walkthrough forms and what we look for during classroom visits.


We are fortunate to work with the university, Dr. James O’Meara, and Branch Alliance. We have meetings where we present to their staff what we are doing at LISD to ensure their curriculum aligns with our needs. They teach the required material, but sometimes the specific things we look for are missing. Therefore, we ensure these critical elements are covered before the teachers leave the university.


Through CCMR, we now have internships for students interested in teaching careers. Some students have already started this pathway by taking undergraduate courses. These internships are available at all our high schools except one and involve double blocks, where students create lesson plans, observe teachers, and experience what the job entails. We aim to hook them and show how rewarding teaching can be, encouraging them to stay in the field.


The sooner teacher candidates get classroom experience, the more likely they are to stay. Even those initially interested in secondary education might switch to elementary after experiencing it. We have a significant teacher shortage in our district, so we work closely with TAMIU and Dr. Mayra Pena, who oversees student teachers. We place student teachers with our best teachers and invite them to our job fairs as they near graduation. We ask if they were comfortable and want to stay, encouraging them to sign up.


Our primary challenge is the bilingual certification exit test, which is very difficult. Given the high number of ELL and bilingual students in our district, we need bilingual teachers. This test is a hurdle, but our bilingual department offers excellent review sessions to help candidates pass and enter our classrooms.

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