This summer, Teaching Excellence (TE), YES Prep’s premier teacher development program, embarked on a partnership with Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success (RYSS) to support the organization’s first-year and novice teachers. TE also partners with KIPP-Houston, Spring Branch ISD, and BakerRipley. Novice teachers attend a two and half week summer induction and then receive continued support through one-on-one instructional coaching and monthly professional learning. We sat down to discuss the new partnership with Kenneth Estrella, Director of Human Resources at RYSS and Calvin Stocker, Director of Partnerships for TE.
Kenneth Estrella: For us, it started with the knowledge that we’d have a lot of turnover this year. The first thing I did was reach out to Teach For America (TFA) to see if we could partner with them. They ended up placing six teachers with us. Because YES Prep works with TFA to support novice teachers in its partner districts, I met with Calvin and immediately saw that TE could do more than support our six TFA teachers. We want our novices to be certified and strong teachers, so we have three non-TFA teachers who will also participate in the program. Most teacher preparation programs lack TE’s thoroughness and the framework and focus of their development.
Calvin Stocker: Agreed. Our work with TFA teachers is what jumpstarted this partnership. We were really excited about Raul’s commitment to the community. When we came to visit their campus, we were taken aback by the holistic approach to supporting the community through the Tejano Center’s wraparound programming. They offer affordable housing, an on-campus Baylor teen health clinic, adult education courses, new mother training and more. (Read more about Tejano Center for Community Concerns and RYSS)
What do you hope to gain from the partnership?
KE: Excellent teaching. I can now tell the people we’ve hired that they will have support and will be super teachers. But I think the impact will extend beyond our cohort of nine novice teachers. When I have conversations with veteran teachers about our leadership and culture, I can tell that there’s a lot of opportunity for growth here and that our experienced teachers can be influenced by TE as well.
CS: Definitely. For the past 15 years, we’ve been focused on teacher development. We’re excited to share what we’ve learned and developed over the past 15 years. This includes welcoming the entire staff at RYSS along with each of our district partners to our new online portal.
As for what we hope to gain at TE, when we go into a partnership, we research the organization’s values. RYSS is aligned with our mission to get students to and through college. But they also recognize that learning doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. It’s much more than that, and they’re making sure that the child and his/her community has the support they need. That’s something that we at YES are excited to learn from.
What will collaboration between your programs look like throughout the school year?
KE: The TE instructional coaches will collaborate with the principals, our teaching specialist, and several of our content area consultants who are supporting teachers.
CS: One of the things we talked about in our initial conversation is that we want districts and campuses to really see the TE instructional coaches on their campus as part of their overall strategic and tactical plan. We have a large amount of touch-points compared to other teacher development programs, so we want to think about how RYSS can best leverage our coaches. Generally, our instructional coaches try to meet core evaluators and teacher support staff once a week to discuss the novice teachers’ development and align their support. We recognize that TE is not a one-size-fits-all model. We have to learn more from Raul about what will be most effective for them.