TWU hosts 2018 New Teacher Academy

Woman speaks in front of banner reading COPE, College of Professional Education. To her left is a sign reading New Teacher Academy.
Daisy Lopez, a 2017 TWU graduate, speaks at the 2018 New Teacher Academy.

The New Teacher Academy reached a couple of milestones Tuesday, July 17, marking its fifth year and more than 100 participants — a record for the annual event.

Teacher Education faculty members Sarah McMahan and Rebecca Fredrickson developed the program to provide extra mentoring and support to recent TWU graduates who are starting their first year or are in their first three years of teaching. Candidates from iTeach Texas, an alternative certification program, also are invited, the result of the Integrative Collaborative with iTeach, TWU, North Central Texas College and the Denton Independent School District.

Lisa Huffman, dean of the College of Professional Education, and associate deans Gina Anderson and Holly Hansen-Thomas welcomed participants. They were joined by Diann Huber, president and founder of iteachU.S., who applauded the gathering of educators focused on helping students.

Huffman told attendees they are in “probably the most crucial years of your teaching career.” She shared advice she had received from K-12 students: Be yourself. Encourage your students. What matters most is that you care about me.

Keeping with tradition, the guest speaker was a recent graduate who had just completed her first year of teaching. Daisy Lopez, a fourth-grade teacher at David and Lynda Olson Elementary School in the Allen Independent School District, noted that she had attended last year’s New Teacher Academy, “trying to soak up as much as I could.” She encouraged beginning teachers to pace themselves, take time to recharge, and lean on other teachers for support. Above all, she said, “Give yourself grace.”

Lopez later joined a panel of other first-year teachers to answer questions from attendees. The daylong event also included a question-and-answer panel with administrators and breakout sessions on effective classroom management strategies, preparing for the first week, and working with special populations.

Attendees of New Teacher Academy listen to speaker

The closing session featured Ruth Johnson (Graduate School) and Randall Langston (enrollment management) encouraging attendees to consider pursuing a graduate degree. To add incentive, they raffled off two scholarships to attend graduate school at TWU.

In addition to McMahan and Fredrickson, the New Teacher Academy planning committee includes Anderson, Huber and Zach Rozell from iteachTEXAS, and teacher education faculty Karen Dunlap, Laura Trujillo-Jenks, Diane Myers and Amanda Hurlbut.

The event has blossomed over the past five years, and while organizers are thrilled with the growth, limited space and limited resources present a challenge.

“This is the first year we had to cut off the number of participants,” McMahan said. “We know the interest in the New Teacher Academy is high, so we are already planning ways to allocate more seats and find additional resources for next year.”

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Page last updated 1:48 PM, August 2, 2018