Some Texans switch industries, filling teacher gaps

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As teacher shortages continue to inundate school districts in Texas and beyond, some participants in teacher certification programs here in Austin shared what attracted them to the profession.

Alberto Serna, a teacher residency program participant at Austin Community College, decided to return to school after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a film degree last year.

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“I was kind of left wondering, ‘Where do I go from here? What’s the next steps?'” Serna said, adding: “It kind of led me to this idea of ‘what if I go back to school, literally?'”

Right now, Serna works alongside three teachers at Austin ISD who help give guidance on day-to-day lesson planning and interactions with students. Through it, Serna said it’s helped shape perspective on how to devote one-on-one, individualized attention to students while still reaching the masses.

“My main goal is to always put students first, and I’m learning that, you know, you have to learn that it’s difficult to try to get all of them and to teach all of them,” Serna said. “But sometimes, it’s just taking that little time every other day to actually sit down and give them that one-on-one attention.”

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Jazmine Sauls and Christopher Hicks are students in ACC’s traditional pathway teacher certification program. For Sauls, her experience as a music teacher led to her wanting a classroom of her own and full-time experiences with a set of students. Now, she’s interested in becoming a prekindergarten or kindergarten teacher, following completion of the program.

With Hicks, he comes from a medical background, with experience studying histotechnology at The University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“I feel like I’m making as much of a difference with students as I am with patients,” Hicks said.

Both of them noted their personal experiences with teachers who helped shape their own educational paths, as well as encouraging them to enter the profession themselves. Hicks said he has a large family with many nieces and nephews and sees this as an opportunity to serve as a role model for them.

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For Sauls, it’s been a full circle moment, as Rebecca Miller — ACC’s program coordinator for the new principal certification program — was her eighth-grade teacher.

“I think it’s interesting that she’s here and a part of the program and basically led the way for me to be here, in a way, today,” Sauls said.

More details on ACC’s teacher certification programs are available online.

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