Texas State, San Marcos CISD partner for innovative teacher residency program

Inside TXST

Texas State University | February 24, 2022

group of teachers sitting in desks in classroom

Texas State University, through a grant from US PREP, has collaborated with the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (SMCISD) on an innovative year-long teacher residency program designed to improve outcomes for students and student teachers alike.

The residency is different from the standard pathway taken by education students because it provides the continuity of being in the same classroom for the entire school year. Placement in the same classroom for field work and student teaching allows for a deeper immersion into the culture of the classroom community and the formation of stronger, more supportive relationships with cooperating teachers, school leaders, students and their families.

"Just last week a cooperating teacher told me that she sees the resident placed in her room as a colleague who is invested in the students’ learning and who she can really count on for lesson-planning and instruction,” said Jesse Gainer, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and teaching faculty in the residency program.

Students in the residency work in kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms while taking their coursework in curriculum and pedagogy. In August, 18 Texas State elementary education students began working in classrooms at De Zavala Elementary and Crockett Elementary in San Marcos. During the fall semester the Texas State students spent at least one full day per week in their placement classrooms. Currently, the students are in their student teaching semesters spending five days per week in the same classrooms.

"This is more than a theory about teacher education—we are seeing the results every day," said Nancy Valdez-Gainer, a lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and site coordinator for the SMCISD teacher residency. "The year-long partnership leads to stronger relationships, a real sense of community.

"It provides more opportunities for our teacher-education students to engage in a variety of teaching strategies and to do it with support from their cooperating teachers," she said. "If we say that relationships are at the heart of great teaching, then this is a big reason the year-long residency is such a powerful model."

During an onboarding meeting with the Texas State teacher residents in February, Stephanie Muñoz, executive director of human resources for SMCISD, announced that the Texas State residents will receive substitute pay of $105 per day for the remainder of the time they are in their placement classrooms. The financial assistance is an investment by SMCISD in aspiring teachers who are engaged in the year-long residency. This assistance comes at a time when it is becoming more and more competitive for districts to attract and retain teachers and many districts are looking for ways to incentivize student teaching and develop pipelines for teacher recruitment.

"I am so grateful to San Marcos CISD for their support and generosity," said Kenna Heroy, a Texas State teacher resident. "Teaching at Crockett Elementary has been an amazing experience and I’m excited to continue learning and growing in this program."

The payments are a welcome assistance to the residents. Student teaching semesters require the teacher residents to spend five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in their placement classrooms and this doesn’t include the extra planning and preparation time that they put in daily. Most students have to quit jobs or only take weekend hours in order to complete student teaching.

"I am very thankful that SMCISD is helping us out," said Ashley De Los Santos, another Texas State teacher resident. "Knowing that I don’t have to work on the weekends to provide for myself will take a load off and really allow me to put all my energy on the kids as well as focusing on becoming a great teacher."

"The College of Education is dedicated to the strong relationship we have with SMCISD as our home district, and grateful for the opportunity to work together in forming the best teachers in Texas who will provide rich and equitable educational opportunities for students from early childhood through adulthood," said Michael O'Malley, dean of the college of education at Texas State. "We’re inspired and beyond grateful for SMCISD’s generous support for this group of aspiring teachers and for welcoming them into the profession."

The Texas State teacher residency program will begin its second year in SMCISD in fall 2022 through the continued efforts of Michael Cardona, SMCISD superintendent, and the SMCISD leadership team, campus principals, cooperating teachers, Texas State’s residency director Minda López, site coordinator Nancy Valdez-Gainer and education faculty.     

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922