Teacher's first day
Patrick Guajardo raised his hand up in the air and began to count to five.
The chatter between 24 third-grade students at DeLeon Elementary School diffused into silence.
"Perfect, that was awesome," Guajardo said.
When Guajardo, 24, graduated from Sam Houston State University with a bachelor's degree in history three years ago, he never expected to become an elementary school teacher.
"After I graduated, I started my master's at UHV in business, and then I changed my mind and put it on hiatus," Guajardo said.
It wasn't until last spring that Guajardo began considering a career in teaching.
"At first, I was thinking about high school," Guajardo said. "And then, I went to do observations in the classroom, and I found I was more comfortable at the elementary level."
Monday was the first day of school for the Victoria school district and the beginning of Guajardo's first year teaching.
Of Victoria school district's almost 1,000 full-time teachers this year, about 8.5 percent have less than one year experience, said Diane Boyett, the district's communications director.
During the 2012-13 school year, 7 percent of the state's teaching core were new to teaching, according to the Texas Education agency.
Guajardo learned about an alternative certificate program through his older sister, who is also an educator.
"I love kids, and education is important," Guajardo said. "It just fit."
On the first day, the Victoria native and former DeLeon Elementary School student spent the day covering basic procedures and helped the students get to learn more about him and their fellow classmates.
"I woke up at 5:30 a.m., and I've been at it ever since," Guajardo said.
A few minutes after the tardy bell, one student arrived at the campfire-themed door with school supplies in tow.
"How is he going to get home today?" Guajardo asked the parent.
Once each of his students had settled in, Guajardo went through some basic classroom rules.
"Does anyone know DeLeon arms?" Guajardo asked as he folded his arms over his chest, referring to the school's uniform code to pay attention.
The students mirrored his movements.
"I was surprised by the alertness of the kids; they were wide awake at 7 this morning," Guajardo said.
The teacher moved a large drawing pad to the center for students to see.
"Today, we're going to write a social contract to make this a fun community for you guys to learn in," Guajardo said.
Students raised their hands and made their suggestions, which included these rules: No stealing, respect one another's property, no cheating, be respectful to the teacher and no smacking of gum or using curse words.
Two students suggested making no fighting or hitting classroom rules as well.
"It helps them take ownership of the classroom," explained Boyett.
As students began to line up for a presentation in the cafeteria on lunchroom rules, one student responded to Guajardo's instructions by saying, "Yes, sir."
"Hey, I like the sound of that," Guajardo said.
At the end of the day, Guajardo spent the afternoon sharpening pencils once his students had gone home.
"It's going to be a great year; I'm very confident that these kids are going to excel in everything they do. I have a really great group of kids," Guajardo said. "I look forward to getting to know each and every one of them."