San Jacinto College students in the Texas State Teachers Association-Aspiring Educators group at Central Campus are stepping outside the classroom to broaden their education horizons.
TSTA-AE students participate in many service learning opportunities — from tutoring children in local schools to writing grant proposals. They even received a $2,000 grant from the National Education Association to buy books on diversity and wellness for a local kindergarten class and after-school program.
"TSTA-AE is an organization for aspiring educators that provides our students with professional development, networking, and leadership opportunities," said Dr. Judith Maima, education and child development professor and TSTA advisor.
Maima believes students are able to connect these activities with what they are learning in the classroom, sparking "rich and meaningful discussions that help them perform well academically."
Overcoming obstacles and embracing opportunities
Teachers face many challenges today. They must accommodate the needs of diverse populations, keep up with new technologies, and deal with safety, mental health, environmental issues, poverty, immigration, and more.
"Teachers must be prepared to work with students from ranging backgrounds and experiences," Maima said. "They need to spend time acquiring knowledge about different group experiences to be culturally responsive to the different populations they will serve."
TSTA-AE often invites guest speakers from local school districts and academic advisors from area universities so students can network and get valuable, real-world insight. Through these connections, some students have received job offers in school districts, and others get resources to plan careers and higher degrees.
It's all about student success
"Building relationships with my students is at the center of my teaching," Maima said. "Through this role as a TSTA advisor, I spend lots of time with my students outside the classroom, engaged in many different activities."
Along with their advisors, the students attended the TSTA state convention in Austin March 4-6, 2022.
San Jac's TSTA-AE won best T-shirt design in the state and took away a certificate of acknowledgment for substantial membership growth. Student Carol Hernandez walked away with a position as state secretary, which starts in August 2023. Hernandez also gets the credit for creating the state slogan that will govern the student organization for two years. The motto is "Todos los nios merecen ser entendidos," which translates to "All children deserve to be understood." Next year's TSTA-AE T-shirts will sport the San Jac logo and new slogan.
TSTA members and current honor students also presented their group projects at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference in Kansas and locally at the College of Mainland Honors Academic Symposium.
Maima said her greatest sense of pride is in seeing her students "transform into confident, knowledgeable, and culturally sensitive leaders."