Global students gain field experience through teacher mentorship

Waxahachie Global High senior Katherine Montero starts her mornings with warm smiles as Clift Elementary students greet her with a “Hello, Ms. Katherine.”

teen girl and teacher with elementary class

Montero is one of 17 students who spend quality time in elementary classrooms to receive hands-on, practical experience and mentorship from Waxahachie ISD teachers.

Through the education program at Global, Montero became serious about pursuing a career in the education field. Now that she is enrolled in the Instructional Practices dual-credit course, she dedicates one hour, four days a week in Laura Tillman’s second-grade classroom at Clift.

“The teacher has me working hands-on with the students, helping them make corrections, explaining to students how to get the answer and why we got the answer we did all while testing them in a way to see how much they know,” Montero explained.

From observing and engaging with Tillman’s class, Montero learned how lesson plans are prepared and executed, to facilitate tests, to be patient with the students who need more time, to effectively communicate with a child, and that students require individualized learning. She even noticed behavioral patterns like how students react differently throughout the day. Montero also noted observations of how the teacher reacted to different situations while maintaining control of the classroom.

The Instructional Practices course allows students to explore a future profession and help solidify their decision to pursue education as a career.

“I’m pretty sure that students who weren’t sure about teaching know if they want to or not now that we’ve had that classroom experience,” Montero said. “I like this class a lot. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite classes because I’ve been able to see if this is something I want to do or not.”

Tillman has worked in education for 17 years and dedicated seven of those as a paraprofessional in Content Mastery and the remainder as a teacher. This is her second year in WISD. Tillman enjoys mentoring these students as it provides a true picture of the classroom.

“It gives me hope that our future as a nation is bright,” Tillman expressed.

Tillman was fortunate to have a mentor in her career and is honored to mentor Montero who she described as kind, patient, and sincere.

“Katherine is reliable and very responsible while in the classroom and working with the students,” Tillman elaborated. “She has a heart for the kids and their personal growth. She is very tender with her words and actions as she works with them.”

Tillman has mentored many student-teachers and said she is most impressed with Montero saying, “She is going to do great things in the education world.”

Instructional Practice is a dual-credit course offered by Navarro College that was designed for juniors and seniors to experience their field sights and be paired with a mentor teacher. Introduction courses like Human Growth and Development and Principals of Teaching and Training have been offered through the education program at Global but it is the first year to offer the dual credit portion.  

This dual credit course was funded through the $108,000 Grow Your Own grant, which aims to provide more opportunities for students and current employees to advance their careers within the district. 

Global teacher Tiki Smith teaches Instructional Practices and spends required time observing her students in the classroom.  

“It’s magical,” Smith expressed. “To get to see these students I’ve taught for several years grow — who are often so shy and introverted — and to see them interacting with these sweet little kids, I have been awestruck to see them talking and laughing. It warms my heart.”