STEPHENVILLE — Tuesday, October 5, is World Teachers’ Day, and there’s no place Tarleton senior education major Rebecca Tuggle would rather spend it than in the classroom.
The 2021 theme is “Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery,” reflecting educators’ often heroic efforts in the pandemic.
World Teachers’ Day was conceived by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 1994. The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements and draw attention to the voices of teachers who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind.
A participant in the Texas Education Agency’s Vetted Teacher Residency program, Rebecca is spending her senior year with kindergarten students in Stephenville.
“I love teaching. I love kids and pouring into them, and getting to see them get better each day,” she said. “I’m a kindergarten resident right now, so my babies are young. It’s the first time away from Mom and Dad, their first experience at school. I love getting to be that first contact.”
Rebecca knew early that she wanted to be a teacher. During her fourth- and fifth-grade years in elementary school, she was frequently sick and absent from class. “I was a good student and didn’t want to make up my absences going to Saturday school, so my teachers worked it out so I could tutor students who were struggling in math or English, language and reading.”
Turns out she was a natural.
“I loved it. I was able to identify what they were struggling with and help them. Getting to see that light come on in their eyes really made me want to become a teacher.
“As I got older I kind of zeroed in on what age I want to teach. I’ve always loved little kids. Kindergarten through second grade is my sweet spot.”
At Tarleton Rebecca made the prestigious Presidential Honors program with a perfect 4.0 GPA before receiving her residency this academic year.
Under the watchful eye of a cooperating teacher, residents get four days a week of on-the-job training for an entire year, a big shift from traditional student teaching.
“I am at the school Monday through Thursday,” Rebecca said. “I get there about 7:15 in the morning and leave between 4:30 and 5. I teach the students every day.”
The Vetted Teacher Residency includes 14 Texas educator preparation schools that offer high-quality teacher residencies. It was established to help school districts acquire state and federal grants.
The residency pairs a teacher candidate with a mentor teacher for a year. Tarleton residents satisfy their clinical teaching requirements by co-teaching in a K-12 classroom for at least three days a week.
“The Vetted Teacher Residency program helps support the efforts of our teacher candidates, allowing them to take advantage of experienced classroom mentors on their way to a career in education,” said Dr. Karen Murray, Tarleton Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Each Friday Rebecca returns to the Tarleton campus for class with other residents in the program.
“We have a community,” she said, “so we can talk about what’s going on in each of our classrooms and in each others’ lives. We give each other advice and support.”
She’s in the home stretch of her college education, expecting to graduate in May with certification to teach students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of assignments,” she said, “but it’s really transitioning us from being college students to teachers.”
There’s nothing and nowhere she’d rather be.