A few years ago, Rickey Townsend was a senior at Dallas ISD’s South Oak Cliff High School preparing to enter his freshman year at UT-Arlington to study finance. A few days ago, Townsend found himself accepting a job to teach middle school math, at Franklin Middle School, a Dallas ISD school located in North Dallas. Asked what prompted the change in career pathways, and Townsend quickly pointed to the strong math teachers he had growing up in Dallas ISD.
“I am a proud product of Dallas ISD and consider myself fortunate to have had great teachers throughout my time in the district,” Townsend said. “I really didn’t realize the powerful impact my teachers had on me until I started undergrad, and then – quickly recognized that my true passion lie in wanting to inspire the next generation of Dallas ISD students the same way my teachers inspired me.”
As Rickey continued to pursue finance as an undergraduate student, his pathway into teaching began after earning his bachelor’s degree when he chose to join Dallas Teacher Residency (DTR) – a graduate teacher preparation program located in Dallas, TX.
Since joining the program in the summer of 2016, Townsend has spent an entire academic year developing as a pre-service math teacher at Franklin Middle School, while being coached by his mentor teacher Ms. Nichols, DTR staff, and university faculty from Texas A&M University – Commerce. In addition, as part of the residency program, he has taken graduate level course work towards his Master’s Degree and initial teacher certification – both of which he is on track to earn this spring and summer respectively. Townsend attributes much of his success developmentally to the time he has spent directly in the classroom with his mentor teacher.
“Spending an entire year learning from a veteran teacher like Ms. Nichols has been 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.”
As the current school year winds down, Townsend finds himself a little anxious about assuming complete control of a classroom as a first year teacher come next fall. Knowing that he will be teaching at Franklin Middle School however, a school he has developed a strong familiarity with throughout his residency year, provides him with the confidence and support he knows he needs to be successful as a new teacher.
“As a resident teacher I have been able to witness what it takes to be an effective teacher – it is incredibly demanding work,” Townsend said. “I look forward to working hard for my students, to continue developing as a new a teacher, and to hopefully, influencing a few future finance majors out there to one day become math teachers themselves. I was inspired by my teachers – now I aspire to do the same to my students.”