700 new teachers get "schooled" in the Northside way

graphic banner reading NISD welcomes 700 new teachers
August 4, 2016

Before 106,000 students arrive for the first day of school on Aug. 22, a brigade of new teachers first have to be schooled.

More than 700 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.

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 Maryland, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Florida, Tennessee, Utah, and Arizona.

The District’s theme for the 2016-2017 school year is “Northside Strong,” and the new teachers are excited to get started and make strong connections with the students so to help them be successful.  

“I decided to become a teacher when I was a freshman at O’Connor High School,” says Brandon Benson, a PE teacher at Behlau Elementary School. “The football players adopted the Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) class and I saw how the teachers would engage the students and how much they wanted them to succeed.  I knew then that was what I wanted to do.”

Picture of Diana Romero and Brandon Benson

 Pictured are (from l-r) Diana Romero, Pre-K teacher at Steubing and Carnahan elementary schools, and Brandon Benson, a PE/coach at Behlau Elementary School.

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 Levi Lara, assistant superintendent for Elementary Administration.  “Our goal is to help them be successful.”

“I can feel the support from the District,” says Melanie Gonzales, a second and fifth grade collaborative teacher at Fields Elementary School. “I’m really excited to have the chance to open this brand new school and become a part of the history of Fields Elementary School.”

Picture of Melanie Gonzales and Principal Daeon Harris

Pictured are (from l-r) Melanie Gonzales, a 2nd and 5th grade collaborative teacher at Fields Elementary School, with Principal Daeon Harris. 

Becky Mahnke graduated from Marshall High School in 2011, but is excited to back home in Northside as an English 1 teacher at Stevens High School.

 “It’s fantastic coming back to Northside because it’s what I aspired to do. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was three years old. I was motivated and pushed by my Northside teachers from kindergarten to twelfth grade.”

“I can’t wait to meet my students on the first day of school and I’m excited to be part of their first high school experience. It’s going to be a year of firsts for all of us. I look forward to learning with them and from them.”

Picture of Becky Mahnke

During the Secondary New Teacher Academy luncheon, Mahnke (pictured left) reunited with her high school principal Anthony Jarrett, now Executive Director of High School Instruction. 

Cristina Hernandez is joining Northside in her second year of teaching as a collaborative math teacher at Jay High School. She’s originally from Arizona.

“I like that Northside is a big district but you can still build relationships and make connections. I was surprised but everyone is so friendly here.”

Her advice for brand-new teachers is to not be afraid to ask questions.

picture of Cristina Hernandez

Cristina Hernandez, originally from Arizona, is now a part of the Jay High School staff.

Speaking with the teachers during the orientation, Northside Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods told the teachers that they had 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.”

“You are the most powerful advocate for education,” he told the group. “You need to tell the positive stories that happen in the classroom each and every day.”