• Project RISE Teacher Spotlight

    Welcome to the Project RISE Teacher Spotlight! Every month we will be interviewing teachers from various Project RISE Campuses. Stay connected and learn more about educators from across our partnering districts! 

  • March Teacher Spotlight: Teacher of the Year Interviews

    Posted by Elizabet Palacios on 3/1/2018 11:00:00 AM

    Juarez-Lincoln High School & Palmview High School

    La Joya ISD - La Joya, TX

    Teacher of the Year Selections - Juarez-Lincoln High School and Palmview High School

    Project RISE: As the Teacher of the Year for your campus, what would you say defines a successful teacher?

    John Grossi: To me, you are successful when the kids come into your room and they feel this is their space to learn. It is when you build the relationship with your students that helps them recognize their own potential and capability to succeed, not just in the classroom but anywhere in life.

    Emmanuel Pacheco: Success means to be part of a unified team. Also, a successful teacher has a passion for the content they are teaching. Students pick up on that and they can tell right away if you care about what you do and it transfers to them.

    Project RISE: As Master and Mentor Teacher for your campus, one of your responsibilities is to coach and mentor beginning teachers. What advice do you have for educators who are just entering the profession?

    Emmanuel Pacheco: Surround yourself with teachers who are positive people and know what they are doing. Look for a support team and get whatever is bothering you off your chest. Don’t take problems or worries home with you.

    John Grossi: First of all, I want to welcome all beginning teachers to the best job in the world. One advice is to not let yourself get so overwhelmed that you forget why you do this job. I would also like to tell new teachers to not be afraid to try new things. It is the only way to grow as an educator and in turn help your students grow.

    Project RISE: What types of support are you able to provide to your peers as a Master/Mentor Teacher?

    John Grossi: When I wake up in the morning, I know that I am going to the best job in the world. I got involved in Project RISE as a Mentor Teacher because I want every teacher to feel that way but I realized that to feel that way a new teacher needs the ideal environment and support that I had when I left my job in banking and started out as a teacher. Also, I believe that there is some degree of isolation in this profession. Having somebody who comes by your classroom and give you feedback, especially when you think that nothing is going right, is a great help. The teachers I work with can always count on me and that relieves a lot of stress for them.

    Emmanuel Pacheco: As a Team Lead for English II and also as ELA Department Head I have learned over the years how to guide a team to plan lessons and how to work on the delivery of the lesson. I stay after school and on Saturdays to be available for planning and answering whatever questions teachers might have. Especially with new teachers, I am welcoming and I dedicate a lot of my time to provide support to them.

    Project RISE: What challenges, if any, have you encountered in your role as Master/Mentor Teacher?

    Emmanuel Pacheco: So far, there have not been any major challenges. Meeting with the other Master Teachers helps me to be more in tune with what is going on at the whole campus not just in my department. At the beginning of Project RISE it was a little difficult navigating the required documents and finding time to meet with teachers, but we make it work and meet after school or Saturdays if necessary.

    John Grossi: It was challenging to get accustomed to my role as a Mentor Teacher because this really is the first time in a position where I help teachers to grow and develop. I had to make a switch from helping students to helping adults.

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  • February Teacher Spotlight: NEW Teacher Interviews

    Posted by Elizabet Palacios on 2/2/2018 2:00:00 PM

    Faulk Middle School Teachers

    Brownsville ISD - Brownsville, TX


    Faulk Middle School Teachers, Ovidio Padilla, Diane Aurajo, Edgar Diaz

    What is it like to be a new teacher? Project RISE asked three beginning teachers at Faulk Middle School in Brownsville ISD to share their experiences as brand new educators.


    Project RISE: What has been your greatest success and  your biggest challenge so far as a new educator?

    Ovidio Padilla: My biggest success so far has been building relationships with my students and gaining their trust and confidence in the classroom. The delivery of content has been a challenge as a new teacher, but with the help of my Master teacher I feel like I am getting a good handle on it.”

    Diane Araujo: Success is coming back to the school where I learned to dance.  This is where I grew up and the kids can relate to me. My challenge was taking over someone else’s classroom in the middle of the school year and winning the students over. That was difficult. It was difficult because they saw me as very young, but that has changed. I feel like I’ve gained their “love.”

    Edgar Diaz: I think that getting this job has been my greatest success even though I am not fully certified.  I waited a long time to get here.  Also, I think that I have clicked with my students. I have become popular as a teacher. But it is a challenge not having a mentor/coach in the art field to model the delivery of an art lesson. If I had studied education, I think that I would have been able to transition into the classroom more smoothly.


    Project RISE: Is the teaching profession what you had imagined it would be before you started your teaching career?

    Ovidio Padilla: Yes, most definitely.  I had already worked as a mariachi program consultant in two school districts, so I had some idea about the students I would encounter. This was not a surprise.

    Diane Araujo: Yes. I started here as a student, so I knew the population well.  In addition, my study has been in dance education.  Exactly what I am doing now. The only thing I was not prepared for was the size of my classroom.  

    Edgar Diaz: It is easier than I expected or imagined. I think that knowing that I am making a difference for students is what makes it easier.

    Project RISE: How would you describe your coaching collaboration with the Project RISE Master and Mentor Teachers?

    Ovidio Padilla: Wonderful!  My master/mentor teacher has made it great for me.  If it wasn’t for Project RISE I would have been lost.  Project RISE has been very helpful.  The trainings provided have helped me a lot!  I use all the strategies and I really like it.  I think that I am able to keep up with experienced teachers because of this program.  My recent data indicates that I can keep up.

    Diane Araujo: My master/mentor teachers have guided me through my teaching.  We meet once or twice a week.

    Edgar Diaz: Excellent…a lot of support!  I wish support was more in art, but I definitely have been guided to teach. I am very grateful to Project RISE.  I see how beneficial it is and how it helps and improves teaching to improve our students.


    Project RISE: What other supports do you feel you might need to become a highly effective teacher?

    Edgar Diaz: I feel that all support has been provided to me by my master/mentor teachers through their guidance, modeling, and sharing of resources.

    Diane Araujo:  A support that has been provided to me to help me with my teaching is allowing me to visit other schools to observe similar programs as mine to see how other dance instructors are teaching.  More modeling in the area I teach would be helpful.  In addition, the staff and administration have been very supportive of my dancing events.

    Edgar Diaz: I would like to learn more about curriculum so that I could more confidently collaborate with other art teachers and help unify the art program.  I would like to see workshops targeting art and making classrooms fun.


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