Dallas Teacher Residency and City Year Forge National Partnership that Leads to Tangible Student Outcomes
Dallas – Harry Nguyen, an avid soccer fan, knows the importance of being a team player. Moreover, he astutely recognizes that most goals are not achieved without a great assist. This past school year, Nguyen put this soccer philosophy into play ‘off the field’ and into the classroom at Dallas Independent School District’s Ben Milam Elementary School. It was at here, at Milam Elementary, that the teacher team of Mr. Nguyen, and his mentor teacher, Ms. Harmon, proved dynamic.
A former City Year Dallas Corps Member, Nguyen joined Dallas Teacher Residency (DTR) as a resident teacher in the summer of 2015 directly following his service with City Year. To Nguyen, the transition to DTR was natural, and would compliment his previous work as a tutor and mentor, to that of a classroom teacher. Furthermore, according to Nguyen, he felt the program would provide him with the training he believed necessary to eventually become successful as a teacher in Dallas.
“My desire to teach has always stemmed from the opportunity to directly impact students,” said Nguyen. “As an educator I want my students to realize that their dreams are always achievable regardless of external circumstances that are often out of their control.”
During the 2015-2016 Residency Year, Nguyen spent over 1,500 clinical hours developing as a teacher, while being coached by his mentor teacher Ms. Harmon, DTR staff, and university faculty from Texas A&M University – Commerce. In addition, as part of the residency program, he took graduate level course work towards his Master’s Degree, and earned his Texas teaching license. Nguyen attributes much of his success to the time he spent directly in the classroom with his mentor teacher.
“Spending an entire year learning from a veteran teacher like Ms. Harmon was incredible,” he said. “From day one she opened up her classroom to me and served as the ultimate coach. We developed a great relationship throughout the year and were able to collaborate with one another – which really made us a great team.”
The results of this ‘team’ speak for themselves, as the 3rd Grade students in Ms. Harmon and Mr. Nguyen’s class had 94.7 and 84.2 percent passing rates in both reading and math respectively on the state (STAAR) exam. Both of these figures well outpaced district scores, where on average, 62.4 percent of district 3rd Grade students passed the reading exam and 66.5 percent passed math.
When talking about the scores, Ms. Harmon emphasized the percentage of their students that achieved the post secondary readiness (or advanced) standard on each exam.
“We had 52.6 percent of our students achieve the advanced standard in reading and 42.1 percent achieve this same standard in math,” said Harmon. “Having students hit this mark is important because it means they are on-track for college.”
In comparison, this advanced standard was achieved on average by only 18.2 percent of 3rd Grade district students in reading and 12.8 percent of students in math.
While attributing reasons for this teams’ success, Mr. Nguyen’s past experience with City Year should not go unnoticed. In 2014, DTR became an official Career Partner with City Year. As a Career Partner, DTR recognizes the value of the City Year experience as a strong indicator of future success in their program. Participating in the City Year experience also strengthens an applicant’s competitiveness and chance of selection.
“A lot of organizations create partnerships for the sole sake of being able to say they have a partnership,” said Dallas Teacher Residency Co-Founder, and CEO, Rob DeHaas. “This is not the case here. The partnership we have established with City Year is not only purposeful and authentic, but also unique in the sense that it truly represents two like-minded organizations working collectively to positively impact the educational trajectory of the students we serve. Overall, we have found that City Year alum embody the mindset, skills, and desire to work in high-need communities, and thus, are well-prepared to enter into and succeed in a rigorous residency program.”
As for Mr. Nguyen – his successful residency year landed him a full time teaching position this fall teaching at the same school he completed his residency training; Ben Milam Elementary School. And yes, his former teammate and coach, Ms. Harmon, will only be a few doors down to lend her support.
When asked about taking over a classroom of his own for the first time this August, Harry Nguyen spoke sincerely.
“Am I nervous … yes I’m nervous,” he said. “But, I am definitely ready to do anything I have to in order to make sure my students are successful.”
Spoken like a true team player.