Before 105,000 students arrive for the first day of school on Aug. 24, a brigade of new teachers first have to be schooled. More than 800 new and new-to-Northside ISD teachers went “back-to-school” during New Teacher Academy, an intense three-day professional development designed to share the culture and the expectations of South Texas’ largest school district as well as learn about the dozens of resources and curriculum support specialists available to them.
Northside’s newest staff members are a mix of veterans from other districts, professionals who decided to change careers, and teachers straight out of college. Many are home-grown in Texas and San Antonio; others are from as far away as New York, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Georgia.
The District’s theme for the 2015-2016 school year is “I am Northside Proud,” and the new teachers stated that they are all proud to be a part of Northside School District.
“I am proud to be starting at a brand new school where both new and veteran teachers are coming together to become a united family,” says Jullian Strohl, a teacher in the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) at Boldt Elementary School, NISD’s newest school opening this year. “I can’t wait to start school. I have so many exciting things planned.”
Emily Sommo, a Kindergarten Collaborative teacher split between Driggers and Oak Hills Terrace elementary schools, was so excited when she received the call that she was selected as a teacher that she literally screamed. “The person from Human Resources who called me probably thought I was a little over exuberant, but I am so excited to be in Northside and to begin a career that I feel that I was born to do,” she said.
Also excited is Hailey Hamilton, a first year science teacher who will teach sixth grade at Rawlinson Middle School. “I am looking forward to the first day of school and seeing my students’ faces,” she said. “I’m excited to get to know them throughout the school year.”
One of the things that new teachers learn at New Teacher Academy is about the support services they receive from the District, including mentorship programs and extensive curriculum and instructional resources and staff development opportunities.
“Northside ISD is well known throughout the state for its support of teachers” says Dr. Linda Mora, Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. “Our goal is to help them be successful.”
Annie Calonico, an AP/Pre-AP World History teacher at Health Careers High School says that she’s a science nerd despite the fact that she will be teaching history so this job is a perfect match. “There’s a lot of support in NISD and a desire to help new teachers be better prepared,” she said.
(From l-r) Health Careers HS Principal Linda Burk and Annie Calonico
Speaking with the teachers during the orientation, Northside Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods confirmed that these teachers made the right career choice.
“You couldn’t have picked a better profession to be in,” Woods said. “The job you do is the most important job anyone can do.”
“I can feel the support from my school and District,” says Jonathan Roblez, a first grade teacher at Helotes Elementary School, who spent his first seven years teaching in another district. “I am so excited to be here – I feel as if I’ve come home.”