Irving — Newly hired teachers and administrators for the Irving Independent School District gathered in Nimitz High School’s cafeteria for a luncheon presented in their honor on Monday, Aug. 5.
“I believe each and every one of you are great, because you have and you will inspire and continue to inspire our next generation of leaders,” Beth Bowman, president and CEO of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, said. “We are so glad you chose Irving.”
This year’s Spirit Award, an honor given teachers who show a tremendous amount of school spirit, went to Bowie Middle School. A.D. Jenkins, president of the Irving ISD Board of Trustees, congratulated them.
“The type of spirit expressed by the teachers of Bowie Middle School is contagious,” Jenkins said. “As educators, it is important for us to use that spirit to help educate our students. It is important teachers know how really, truly valuable they are to us. Sometimes you can be a counselor to the students. There are times when you can be a police officer, a detective, a lawyer, or a judge, because you have the final say. There are times when a student will tell you things they won’t even tell their own parent.
“There were times when my mom, a single parent, would work double shifts. Sometimes I would go entire days without seeing her. Many times, teachers can be like a mom or a dad, because they fill the gap many students feel.
“Teachers, the next time you are having a hard day remember why you’re here. You’re here to inspire faith, hope, and confidence in the future leaders of tomorrow. Remember at some point in time, you have inspired a kid to do something special.”
Magda Hernandez, Irving ISD Superintendent of Schools, served as the program’s main speaker.
“Teachers, I want you to know what you do matters,” Hernandez said. “You have chosen the most rewarding career or profession one could ever have. You make a difference in a child’s life in the classroom and beyond the classroom. Don’t underestimate the value you bring to students, and don’t ever underestimate a student’s potential to learn, because they all can learn.
“I started my career at Irving ISD as a teacher’s assistant back in 1993. In the second semester of 1998, I was rehired as a replacement second grade teacher. On my first day of class, I had the students sit down with me on the floor for a read-along where I talked to them about my expectations for the remainder of the year.”
Hernandez nearly choked up as she recalled how one student, named Jose, stayed behind at his desk.
“When I asked him to come sit with us, the other students said ‘He isn’t allowed to sit with us, because he doesn’t know how to read,’” Hernandez said.
However, Hernandez insisted that Jose join them.
“Even though he did not speak, I could tell that he was happy to be part of the group,” Hernandez said. “One day, Jose walked into class, and told us all he had earned a star. The whole class gasped when they heard him speak.”
Because Jose was behind in his learning, he was going to be held back. Hernandez made sure his parents understood why, and she saw to it she was his teacher again. By the end of the year, Jose was reading at grade level.
“I wanted to share this story, because on the first day I stepped into that classroom, I knew I was in the right place at the right time,” Hernandez said. “Please, do not underestimate our students’ potential. Teaching is a profession, and we should not complain if a student is having trouble understanding something. Find a prescription for it. Would you let your doctor give up on you? Our students are waiting for that teacher who is willing to give them their all, every day. Be passionate about the work you do and love what you do.
“Our students deserve the very best educators, and that is why you are here today. There are three points to remember. First, be growth minded, and ask questions, even if you don’t think it is a good one. Be willing to take chances, to grow and take risks. Secondly, be relevant and take advantage of every opportunity you have to either get or give feedback. Last, but not least, teach and lead with a passionate heart. Don’t let the challenges that show up at your doorstep everyday distract you from your true focus, your students. Build relationships with them, and make it a priority to create a learning environment that is exciting and fun. Go, dream big.”