Curriculum & Instruction Newsletter

New Teacher Updates Vol. 2

From the Director's Desk - Mrs. Aida Gomez

As the end of the 1st 6-weeks approaches, and your grades and deadlines are due, please be cognizant to turn to your mentor with any questions or concerns. These individuals are knowledgeable and can play an important role in your continued success. The Curriculum and Instruction Team has developed a plan to support each of you and we look forward to working together and building relationships. I leave you with the following thought: “Great teachers have high expectations for students but even higher expectations for themselves.” ~ Todd Whitaker, What Great Teachers Do Differently. Welcome to SFDRCISD.

Bilingual/ESL Updates

As I walk the hallways of our schools, I am often greeted with hugs and smiles from our students. Some of their faces I know, and others I do not. But regardless, I make it a point to greet them back with the same enthusiasm, because kids are important, and it is important that we let them know it. This said, I want to commend those of you who have shared your success stories with me of how well our bilingual students are doing. It takes a special kind of person to work with these kids, because although it's not an easy job, you know deep inside that if you push hard enough and with the right amount of passion and compassion, they will succeed! Thank you for not shying away from the challenge and for being open and honest about your struggles and concerns, but mostly for acknowledging in your hearts, that you have what it takes to make it happen for our kids! - Griselda Westlake

"There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all"-- author unknown

Spotlight on Calderon Elementary - Allison Mercier

"I hope that all new teachers remember to have a balance in their life. While planning and preparation are very important to a successful first year, new teachers must also remember to take care of themselves. A happy, healthy teacher is what students really need." ~ Allison Mercier


Allison Mercier is an Interventionist and Mentor at Calderon Elementary. For three years, Mrs. Mercier has assisted teachers with coaching, modeling and a variety of professional development opportunities. Her strengths include developing a structure for classroom management, leading iStation and Spalding training, and organization skills, to name a few. She has been a part of the SFDRCISD family for 13 years. She continuously looks for new ways to build teachers strengths through the means of collaboration.


"Mrs. Mercier is what all new teachers aspire to be. She instinctively demonstrates the qualities of a teacher whose goal is to provide the best education for all children. She is a new teacher safe haven for questions and best practices. I am incredibly thankful to have Mrs. Mercier as my new teacher mentor and as a role model. Her influence and guidance will allow me to make a lasting impact on my students." - K. Malone

Spotlight on DRMS - Angie Zaragoza

As the Strategist at DRMS, Angie Zaragoza is no stranger as a leader in instruction for middle school students. Ms. Zaragoza has been a member of team DRMS for 10 years. She has spent these years in many roles; as a former History teacher, department head, and campus leadership member. Her work with teachers involves providing support for ESL/QTEL strategies and building the language and content knowledge of English Language Learners (ELLs). Working alongside her colleagues, Ms. Zaragoza promotes collaborative planning, mentoring, and coaching. New teachers have learned ways to engage 7th & 8th graders so that they spend class time focused on developing learning for their content, but more importantly, learning for a lifetime.

Thanks for your continued support!


“Ms. Zaragoza has put a great deal of effort into helping me reach our students. Her heart is in the right place: with our students. As long as we all remain true to that end, we will surely lead our students to victory.“ - Mr. Norton


“Ms. Zaragoza is consistent & helpful . I appreciate ALL the visits and help. She is quick to answer my questions and any concerns I may have. Also gives me a bit of training on Skyward Gradebook since I never had any.” - Mrs. A. Hernandez


"Angie, has always been very supportive and I know I can count on her when I need her." - E. Jimenez

Reflections... Worth the Experiences

It's been a decade since my first year in the classroom. Wow! Time flies when you are having fun! Every chance I get to spend in the classroom alongside colleagues, I am reminded of my own first experiences and recall often wishing I would have known then what I know now. I reflect often about myself, about my teaching and about my students. With that said, this edition of our newsletter starts with some reflections worth sharing with each of you; you who are filled with the enthusiasm of a new career, the passion for what you studied and the hope for a promising future for each student in your life.


1. Teaching is a work of heart - Take the time to get to know the beautiful human beings you are surrounded by daily. Yes, curriculum, data, collaboration and resources are critical. Yes, hi-fives for middle school kids are better suited than hugs, but simply communicating with them - how are you today, I'm so glad you are with us , how can I help - goes a long way! Engage in them, and everything else will soon follow.


2. This will get better - Believe me and believe your mentor who has probably said this to you many times! The first year of teaching is hard. That sentence is an understatement. It is ridiculously hard some days, mildly hard others, and crazy insane even others. What makes it difficult is that you can't even begin to define why you may believe that. The reality is you push your passions through your heart and your content knowledge through your mind each and every day over and over again. Everyday you make decisions about what you spend hours planning for and sometimes that time feels wasted because what you did with one class is completely different than what you did with your next class. How is that even possible? It will get better. You're just overloaded because you are learning and doing both at the same time. Nothing will ever be as hard as the first year.


3. Stay close to your Mentor - Their reflections are worth listening to. They've been there, done that. Their dedication to you is to support your growth, observe you, give you feedback and help you fulfill the vision of you as a strong teacher. You won't be able to figure this all out on your own. You can't see what you can't see. You don't know what you need to know. And what you may not know yet is that you too, will one day be a great teacher.


With writing key in what we do with students, I invite you to capture your first year. Journal, blog, or simply share stories with someone you trust. How neat would it be for you to reflect on this journey come the end of the school year. ~ mys

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Book of the Month: The First Days of School by Harry Wong

Ask your mentor for information on how to get a copy of this book or joining a book study!

C&I Team

Director: Aida Gomez - SFMMS

Coordinators & Campus Contacts: Patricia Brown - DRMS/Blended, Marta Galindo - LAM/RCE, Sandra Mendoza - BVE, Maytte Y. Soliz - CAL/DLG, Jennifer Sutton - DRFS/DRHS, Griselda Westlake - GAR/NHE