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Building Houston's Super School

Teacher Story Slam: Educators Share Their Take On Innovation, Challenges

Teachers from across Houston share what they have found as challenges — and solutions — to innovate and move education forward

Anita Wadhwa speaks at Houston Public Media's Story Slam in Houston, Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Michael Stravato)
Anita Wadhwa speaks at Houston Public Media’s Story Slam in Houston, Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Michael Stravato)

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, teachers from around Greater Houston gathered to share stories of their experiences in education during a teacher story slam event at Houston's Furr High School.

For the past year, News 88.7's education reporter Laura Isensee has been reporting on Furr High School, which is trying to come up with a new model for high school thanks to a $10 million grant from the XQ Institute. But – aside from Furr – plenty of educators from other schools across Greater Houston have ideas for how to improve education and how to improve their students' lives.

This event was a chance to hear from some of them and learn about their experiences both as people and with their students. Nine different educators got onstage to tell their stories.

Below, you can check out a slideshow, plus videos of some of the storytellers and audio from several more who were featured on Houston Matters.

  • Juliet Stipeche leads the Mayor's Office of Education, which co-sponsored Houston Public Media's Teacher Story Slam in November 2017. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
    Juliet Stipeche leads the Mayor's Office of Education, which co-sponsored Houston Public Media's Teacher Story Slam in November 2017. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
  • Marlon Lizama teaches poetry to teenagers in high-needs Houston high schools. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
    Marlon Lizama teaches poetry to teenagers in high-needs Houston high schools. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
  • Naomi Molina de Wood  brought Mexican-American studies to classroom in Houston. She said it inspired her as a college student, when she realized she was still struggling to read. (Photo Credit: Michael Stratato)
    Naomi Molina de Wood brought Mexican-American studies to classroom in Houston. She said it inspired her as a college student, when she realized she was still struggling to read. (Photo Credit: Michael Stratato)
  • Henry Keculah taught in Houston schools through Teach for America. He later started a consultancy group to help prepare students for college. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
    Henry Keculah taught in Houston schools through Teach for America. He later started a consultancy group to help prepare students for college. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
  • Kristi Rangel was a teacher and administrator with the Houston Independent School District for almost 20 years. She now tries to change systemic problems that contribute to achievement gaps, poverty and health problems at the city of Houston's Health Department. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
    Kristi Rangel was a teacher and administrator with the Houston Independent School District for almost 20 years. She now tries to change systemic problems that contribute to achievement gaps, poverty and health problems at the city of Houston's Health Department. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
  • Educators from across Houston cited things like voice, equity and freedom as the most important ingredients to spur innovation and improvement in Houston schools. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)
    Educators from across Houston cited things like voice, equity and freedom as the most important ingredients to spur innovation and improvement in Houston schools. (Photo Credit: Michael Stravato)

 

 

 

Things Were Different Then

Paul Castro is the superintendent of a charter school system here in Houston called A+UP. He talked about how approaches to education have changed over the years, starting with a conversation he had with his mother about her experience in school in Corpus Christi and ending with a recent encounter with one of his students.

Listen

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No Such Thing As Bad Kids

Albert Wei is a former teacher who works at the education nonprofit ProUnitas. He talked about becoming a government and economics teacher at Sharpstown High School right out of college, at the age of 22. He says both his fellow teachers and students gave him a specific warning when he started his job.

Listen

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Seeing Students As Human

Writer Leslie Contreras Schwartz talked about her experience teaching writing to some elementary school kids.

Listen

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This series was produced with the support from the Education Writers Association’s Reporting Fellowship.

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