Paying it Forward

    Academy Principal Uses Training to Blaze Trails For New Teachers

    Doreen Benavidez, Principal
    Woodlawn Academy
    San Antonio ISD, San Antonio, Texas
    Raise Your Hand Texas Alumna, ’14 (National Institute for Urban School Leaders)

    What do you do when you’re a hyper-imaginative 4-year-old girl with a room full of stuffed animals?

    You launch Plush Toy Pre-School of course!

    That’s what Doreen Benavidez did. Today, she’s principal at Woodlawn Academy in the San Antonio Independent School District.

    “I fell in love with the idea of teaching my bears,” Benavidez says. “My dad bought me my first chalkboard when I was five years old and I taught everyone in my bedroom. I just fell in love with the idea of being able to teach people things. That’s actually who I am.”

    With 17 years in education, Benavidez is ready to blaze a trail for new public school teachers. For eight years, she taught special education before becoming assistant principal in the Crowley school district. She spent 10 years as a school administrator — eight as principal. She plans to earn a doctorate degree in education and aspires to be a district superintendent someday.

    “I’d love to be able to teach future teachers what really happens in a classroom – realistic points of view.”

    Mentorship. Insight. Educational enlightenment. These are the concepts Benavidez envisions for public schools. She says there is a surplus of theory in the contemporary K-12 realm. But, there are few, real “hands-on” opportunities for new teachers and administrators to learn from successful educators.

    “I’d love to be able to teach future teachers what really happens in a classroom,” she says. “When they put you in there, it’s all yours. If there’s no mentoring system in place, then that can really hurt you in the long run.”

    With a half-new staff, including eight first-year teachers, Benavidez has the opportunity to put her ideas into practice. And, this is the first year Woodlawn will operate as an academy teaching Pre-K through 8th-grade students.

    “This is the perfect time to strategize and make the changes that need to be made,” Benavidez says. “I’m fortunate because I have a young staff and they’re willing to try new things. We don’t want them to fail so we’re doing everything it takes to make them successful.”

    “I am one of those people who wants to continue to search for more ideas and for more things to do differently to help our school be successful.”

    “I’m fortunate because I have a young staff and they’re willing to try new things. We don’t want them to fail so we’re doing everything it takes to make them successful.”

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