Meet Four Teacher Residents Investing in San Antonio Students

Updated: Jun 24, 2019

Relay Graduate School of Education teacher residents spend summer preparing for upcoming school year in the classroom.

Summer is typically when we expect our teachers to be relaxing away from the classroom. For the 40 new teaching Residents enrolled in the Relay Graduate School of Education’s Teacher Residency program here in San Antonio, summer marks the start of a focused and intense time of learning to build and expand their teaching skills so they can serve as resident teachers for the upcoming school year.

In the Fall of 2017, national nonprofit Relay Graduate School of Education implemented their one-of-a-kind program for teacher preparation in partnership with San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD).

Relay Graduate School of Education trains teachers like doctors - through a yearlong, competency based residency. The hallmark of the innovative residency program is Relay’s approach to providing aspiring teachers with a supportive, gradual, and rigorous introduction to teaching within the classroom environment in which they will eventually lead. In SAISD, Residents are placed at Ogden and Storm Elementary schools, where they benefit from exceptional mentorship and coaching. In turn, students at Ogden Elementary benefit from a Resident and Master Teacher in their classrooms. During the first year of the Residency, students are paired with a master teacher while they earn a teaching credential, and Residents complete a Master of Arts in Teaching the second year of the Residency. The future teacher residents began their in-person coursework and learning on Friday, July 6 at SAISD’s Ogden Elementary.

Meet the Residents

“The beauty of this program is that our teacher residents come from all backgrounds, all walks of life… some being straight out of college, while others are a few years out of college… some have decided on a complete career change to teaching, and some are coming out of the military. Many do not have any background in teaching. This program provides an on-ramp to being a teacher. While there are many different pathways our teacher residents take to get here, we all have a common vision: impacting children’s lives for the better, coupled with a passion for education,” says Chris Fraser, Senior Dean of Relay Graduate School of Education.

Meet Jessie Noblett

University of Texas at Austin Sherman, Texas

“As a junior Public Relations major at UT-Austin, I worked at a summer camp and with a local nonprofit in a school in Austin. I quickly realized that my passion was kids, especially kids in marginalized communities. I then learned about Relay Graduate School of Education’s teacher residency program, where I would not only learn skills to become a teacher, and earn a Master’s degree upon completion of the program, but I would also be helping children and equipping myself with incredible skills and tools. I have learned so much in my first four days of the Relay teacher residency courses and training this summer. I feel like I can already go into a classroom and have the confidence to lead a group of students. I am passionate about helping people and passionate about children. I know I will be advocating for children my whole life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach through this program.”

Meet Jared Cobble St. Edward’s University

McAllen, Texas

“I come from a family of teachers and education has always been a pivotal part of my life, but teaching was never part of my plan. As I was deciding what to do after graduation and where to go, teaching came up again and again. I found Relay Graduate School of Education and felt it was a great fit for me, because I didn’t have actual teaching experience. The past four days of our summer training, we have completely immersed ourselves in the coursework. I am learning what it means to be a teacher and how to be an effective teacher. The Relay instructors have been amazing in making sure we are all on track to become great teachers. By the end of our in-person training this week, I will be confident in my ability to effectively lead children to be the best students they can be. I am excited to grow as a teacher and to inspire children to go to college. No matter where I end up, I know that the leadership and teaching skills I am learning now will prepare me for my future.”

Meet Rodrigo Cantu

University of Texas at Austin

San Antonio, Texas “I graduated in 2016 from UT Austin. I began college thinking that I would go into the biomedical field in order to cure cancer, and along the way, I realized that my true passion was being with people. I graduated with a history degree and then did some volunteer and missionary work with the goal of going into full-time ministry. My mother was a teacher in San Antonio. My grandmother was a teacher in the mountains of Mexico. I was looking for a job, and I tried substitute teaching at the suggestion of my mother. I then realized that I loved teaching because of the ability to invest in people.

I was privileged to substitute teach at Ogden Elementary beginning in February 2018, which is where I learned about the Relay Graduate School of Education program. I heard firsthand from the teachers how the entire culture of Ogden Elementary had changed dramatically since their partnership with Relay. I have seen the joy in the teachers and students faces each day. I have been so excited to start the summer training; this really is the beginning of my journey for this calling that I have. While I have had seven months of substitute teaching experience, I have not had any formal training. I am learning techniques to facilitate instruction better, and to make sure students are learning. I came with limited knowledge but with a mind and heart that wanted to learn. My toolbox is now filled with tools, but I am ready to organize it so that I can use these tools effectively. It is amazing to see how much I have grown in the last four days. By the end of our training on Friday, I hope that I am confident to lead a classroom and establish the respect of our student scholars.

Every leader should be able to teach. Every leader should be an excellent public speaker, and every leader should be someone that can instill purpose in others. Relay is giving me the tools and confidence to be that kind of leader for the sake of our children.”

Meet Victor De La Cerda

University of Arizona

San Antonio, Texas

“I have been passionate about education from a very young age, and while I avoided the teaching profession in college, it soon found me. I joined the AmeriCorps’ Jumpstart program and became completely immersed in education. I spent some time off in San Antonio and began connecting with people who were also in the local education field here. After graduation, I decided to return to teaching. I felt it was calling me, and I needed to commit. I applied for Relay Graduate School of Education after attending an Open House event. Relay stood out because it is committed to people who are invested in and passionate about education for the long run. In the four days that I have been here and learning, I have found that the Relay curriculum is so purposeful and that any anxiety I may have had has all been quieted. I am so much more equipped to begin teaching now, and I am on a path to be an exceptional teacher. I could not have asked for a better experience and environment.”

What’s Next for the Residents?

As these four residents finish their summer coursework and training, they will begin in August as full-time, paid teachers-in-residence supporting a lead classroom teacher here in San Antonio. For Jessie, Jared, Rodrigo and Victor, they are all serving in SAISD schools next year. Relay’s other partner schools are KIPP San Antonio and IDEA San Antonio Public Schools.

They will progress in their first year and steadily gain responsibility leading small groups of students and delivering parts of lessons, until they are ready to instruct a whole class of students for extended periods of time. Once residents successfully complete the first year of the program, they will receive support finding a position as a fully licensed lead teacher.

Residents will complete their degree with two years of full-time work experience, a toolkit of professional skills, teaching certification, and a master’s degree in teaching, awarded by Relay Graduate School of Education. The opportunity to earn a Master’s in teaching through Relay is made possible by an innovative partnership with San Antonio ISD, Relay Graduate School of Education, and City Education Partners. To cover the tuition costs associated with the Residency, graduates receive a loan that is fully forgiven if the Resident serves SAISD for four years, two in the Residency and two after Residency completion. Through philanthropy, City Education Partners supports Relay tuition loans and stipends, which allow Residents to work full-time in classrooms during the first year of the Residency.

“The vision and hope of Relay Graduate School of Education is to build a tremendous and talented pipeline of teachers for our local schools and be part of an educational transformation right here in San Antonio, all while serving our local students and community,” says Chris Fraser, senior dean of Relay Graduate School of Education.

“ City Education Partners is 1000% behind the work that Relay Graduate School of Education is doing for aspiring teachers and for our San Antonio students. Their teacher residency program is the one of the very best in the country, and we are thrilled they have brought the innovative Residency model programs to San Antonio to help us create groundbreaking schools. This work is made possible through strong partnerships we share with SAISD and Relay,” says Joel Harris, Executive Director of City Education Partners.

Stay tuned for future stories about the teacher residents and how they are impacting our students’ lives.

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