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COEHD to graduate first SSAISD cohort members

By Jo Ann Jones    |     October 20, 2014

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By: Jo Ann Jones, COEHDnews Editor

(SSAISD cohort members, SSAISD students, COEHD faculty and staff, and councilman Rey Saldaña)

The UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) will graduate its first cohort of students from South San Antonio Independent School District (SSAISD) this December. This is the first cohort of its kind in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching (ILT).

The cohort was formed out of a partnership between COEHD and SSAISD to meet the needs of 14 district teachers that enrolled in the Master of Arts in Education program with a literacy education concentration in the summer of 2012. Over the past five semesters, eight elementary school teachers, three middle school teachers, and three high school teachers have taken courses to fulfill their degree requirements in addition to preparing to sit for the state exam to become a state certified Reading Specialist.

“We teach a majority of the classes in SSAISD,” said Dr. Misty Sailors, ILT professor. “It is both convenient for the SSAISD teachers and sends the message that COEHD is very serious about helping them improve their instruction in their classrooms and, thus raising the reading achievement of the students in the district.”

All of the field-based courses, Sailors said, are done in SSAISD schools so that the district’s students are benefiting from the training the teachers are receiving through the program. This June, the district regularly bussed students in need of reading tutoring to the college’s Plaza de Lectura (Reading Place) at the Downtown Campus.

“These teachers are outstanding reading teachers,” said Sailors. “If you walk in their classroom, it is obvious that it is a reading classroom. They are such good role models for the community of teaching at large and for UTSA pre-service teachers.”

Most of the cohort teachers, Sailors said, have hosted UTSA pre-service teachers in their classrooms as part of their learning to be literacy coaches.

“Everything that I have learned in my classes and through my classmates has been easily transferrable into my classroom,” said Andrea Sanchez, seventh grade reading teacher and cohort member. “With every new class and experience, I felt like I have grown as a person. The best part is the fact that I am able to share this with 13 other people from my district who are inspired, just as I am, to help bring about change in our district and community.”

The cohort has been recognized several times at the district level for their research and for the work done through the program. Most recently, four members of the cohort, Monica Segura, Eve Prado, Ruben Tejeda, and Nancy Lucero, were recognized for their research projects at the September SSAISD Board of Trustees meeting.

In January, the college will start two new literacy cohorts, one in Somerset Independent School District and one in Harlandale Independent School District. The partnerships will be unique to those two districts but will follow a similar format to the one that was developed for SSAISD. The co-directors for the new cohorts include Drs. Miriam Martinez, Logan Manning, Dennis Davis, and Sailors.

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