Amidst Great Challenges,
They Continue to Change the World

I have hope in America’s future. This year has been tumultuous for many students and families, yet they are resilient. Educators and communities have worked together to provide meals, WiFi, technology devices, and the best education possible for all students, no matter if they are learning at home or six feet apart in person. The amount that the school community and community partners have come together to support the students that attend our school has been awe-inspiring. Education continues to be the catalyst that changes the world!”

– Gabriela Coelho
K-5th Grade Special Education Teacher, Manor ISD

Welcome to the second installment of our Q&A with Charles Butt Scholar alumni in their first years as Texas teachers. 

Following an unprecedented year of challenges from a global pandemic to racially-motivated violence, to a devastating winter storm and statewide energy crisis, these new teachers braved it all with grace and compassion. 

In their end-of-the-school-year reflections, you’ll notice a common refrain that the practice most critical to their success was building meaningful relationships with students, families, and fellow teachers. You’ll also note self-care strategies, tips on leveraging technology, and lessons in embracing the support of a team. 

Explore these Q&As for an honest look at what it’s like to be a new teacher. The stories, struggles, and triumphs of Texas public school teachers, and the students and families they impact should give us all great hope for the future of public education in Texas.

Gabriela Coelho

GABRIELA COELHO

K-5th Grade Special Education Teacher | Decker Elementary | Manor ISD

“My greatest lesson throughout this school year is that relationships matter. Relationships with your students and their families are vital to their success.”

ASHLEY MCDONALD

English II Teacher | Westside High School (2020-21), Bellaire High School (21-22) | Houston ISD

 

“With the current teaching environment that we’re all in, we all feel like new teachers and need to collaborate and turn to each other for help.”

JACQUELINE OJEDA

10th Grade English Teacher | Southwest High School | Southwest ISD

“I don’t believe I will be able to overcome losing someone so important to me, but I do know that I have become a fountain of trust for my students who are experiencing loss this school year.”

MCKENNA MOHR

K-2nd Grade Life Skills Teacher | Henderson Elementary | Bryan ISD

“I’ve learned that the time spent creating a relationship with the student, learning what really makes him or her tick, is the most important thing you can do in a classroom.”

ANA ARREAGA

2nd Grade Teacher | Dan D. Rogers Elementary | Dallas ISD

“My students are able to see themselves more and more in the education system.”

MICHAEL WESEVICH

10th & 12th Grade Pre-AP Chemistry/AP Physics Teacher | Bryan Adams Leadership Academy | Dallas ISD

“Your efforts are noticed, the little things you do in class are appreciated, and the viewpoints you expose your students to genuinely stick.”

MICHELLE HENDERSON

1st Grade Self-Contained Teacher | Alderson Elementary | Lubbock ISD

“I am so proud to see all of the people who are working hard to help our society be happy and healthy again.”

LILIA HERNANDEZ

1st Grade Self-Contained Teacher | Sivells Elementary | Wharton ISD

“At the end of the day we all want the same thing – our students to succeed.”

CHRISTEN SMAJSTRLA

History Teacher | Heights High School | Houston ISD

“Our school not only provided resources for students, but we also provided a family. Everyone was looking out for each other and it was beautiful to see.”

Bailey Glenn

BAILEY GLENN

3rd Grade English Language Arts & Reading Teacher | Rosenberg Elementary | Galveston ISD

“I learned teachers and students are very resilient!”

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