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Superintendent's column: Serve as a guiding light for all in need

By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
July 25, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.

Robert Jaklich

It has truly been an exciting summer with the grand expectations of another outstanding school year very closely upon us. As we are working diligently to prepare our schools with staffing, curriculum and facility needs, we must remind ourselves of the business of our business.

As educators, our job is to look into the future and see the organization not as it is, but as it should be. John Ruskin once stated, "The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it."

In the Victoria Independent School District, we realize we are not in the education business serving people; we are in the people business serving education. Below is a letter I received from Alesia Powell Henderson, who was a first-year teacher at Guadalupe Elementary School last year. Because of the size of enrollment at Guadalupe Elementary School, oftentimes, there is only one teacher per grade level, and this creates a challenge for our teachers to work collaboratively with their peers. As we state often in the Victoria Independent School District, the power of our school district lies deep within our people.

We truly appreciate Henderson sharing this incredible story and our Torres Elementary School staff for providing this extraordinary commitment to academic excellence.

Letter from Alesia Powell Henderson, teacher at Guadalupe Elementary School: C.S. Lewis once said, "The task of the modern educator is not to cut down the jungles, but to irrigate deserts."

I came to Victoria to teach; I came here as a 48-year-old, first-year teacher and 300 miles from my home, family and friends. I was excited and scared, however, undaunted in my quest to fulfill my lifelong dream to be a teacher. I soon realized that although I had a teaching degree, I was ill-equipped not only with my new surroundings but - first and foremost - as a teacher. I also soon realized that I was employed by a school district that had more kids enrolled in school than the entire population of my hometown of Gunbarrel City.

If being inexperienced wasn't enough, I had taken a position where I would be the only grade-level teacher on campus. No team to work with sunk in fast and furious, and I felt the sense of panic setting in. My feelings were a mixture of confusion, apprehension, loneliness and desperation hinged on my sudden realization of inexperience in the teaching field. I began to question my ability as a teacher. I did the best I could in the beginning, learning my students, trying to remember everything that was said at convocation, pulling out my Harry Wong book, praying and desperately searching for resources while trying to learn how to lesson plan.

Then something wonderful happened. I had been signed up to take one of the many classes and trainings that Victoria Independent School District provides for all their educators. I finally had a chance to meet other teachers - seasoned teachers like Katrina Pogue at Torres Elementary School.

Pogue and I began to talk, and the minute she heard about my situation, she went into proactive mode. I soon was introduced to the second-grade teaching team at Torres, and they welcomed me to their campus. The Torres team embraced me, and I began to meet with them every Monday after school from then until now. Although I have much to do and many more things to learn, they gave me the support and encouragement that I so desperately needed.

Words cannot sufficiently express my gratitude and deep appreciation for supplying me with the water that I needed to feed my desert. My kids are better educated and adequately prepared for their next step on their educational journey because of four wonderful teachers at Torres Elementary. Saying thank you seems like a small gesture, but know that it's more than a thank you; it's gratitude beyond words or measure. My hope is that we stay in contact and that I am able to return the favor to another scared-out-of-their-mind first-year teacher.

So to Debbey Hartman, Luis Torres, Rebecca Hinrichs and Amber Kahlich, thank you again for being so kind and accommodating. Victoria Independent School District is so fortunate to have teachers such as you.

With deepest gratitude - Alesia Powell Henderson, Guadalupe Elementary School

On behalf of our board of trustees and our entire Victoria family, we would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to all the faculty and staff of the Victoria Independent School District. Each day, they serve as a guiding light for those who are in need, and we are so proud of their many efforts to inspire us to become the school district we aspire to be.

Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.

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