First-year teachers at YES Prep are part of Teaching Excellence (TE), a teacher development and certification program. Each new teacher is paired with an Instructional Coach (IC) to work with throughout their first year. Coaches act as mentors, guiding new teachers through a curriculum that includes core skill-building, tactics for day-to-day problem solving, and tailored personal development. In her first year as an instructional coach, Jamie Horton coached Amy Kitchel, a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at YES Prep Gulfton. Amy was then named Texas’s TACA Intern Teacher of the Year. I sat down to talk to them about what drew them to YES Prep after working in other fields and how they worked together as a team.
You both left other careers to become a teacher. Why did you choose YES Prep?
Jamie: So I had a friend who worked for YES Prep East End teaching Spanish. Teaching was something I was always interested in, but I wasn’t sure if I could make the jump into teaching without the educational background in college. She encouraged me to apply to YES Prep by saying, “if you want to be a really good teacher and be the best you can be, go to YES.” So I only applied to YES. It seemed like a no-brainer to me.
Amy: I was in grad school working on a PhD. Someone asked me what I wanted to do when I finished, and I said I wanted to teach middle school. It suddenly occurred to me that I could teach right now. There’s a need in the state of Texas for teachers. So I did my research and YES Prep was the place you could come to teaching as your second career. You could also become a highly effective and highly skilled teacher because of TE and the coaching process.
Clearly, you had a successful mentor/mentee relationship. Tell us about that.
Amy: What was so valuable about Jamie is that she got to know me as a human being and a teacher. She catered her coaching to me and got to know my strengths and weaknesses. She also had experience teaching middle school English, so I trusted her insight and knew she could help me do the job better.
Jamie: The thing about Amy is that she was always open to feedback. She always wanted to grow. I was able to be a strong coach for her because she was so open to feedback and had such a humble mindset. She once took running notes on her own classroom and sent them to me to ask what I thought she could have done differently. She knew she was a strong teacher, but she didn’t stop; she was continuously working to get better.
Amy: I came here because I want to be a great teacher, and through instructional coaching, I have the opportunity to be a great teacher. Even if Jamie wasn’t still coaching at Gulfton, I would still be able to reach out to her and call or text her and ask for support. Her caring about me and my development didn’t stop at the end of the year. It’s a long-term relationship.