In a year that proved challenging to teach and to compete, a group of Killeen ISD Career Center education students interested in the teaching profession advanced to a national competition.
Eight students qualified to compete in the Educators Rising National Conference, scheduled last week. Like the state Texas Association of Future Educators event, this culminating competition is a virtual activity.
A group of 17 Career Center education students advanced to the state level of competition and presented to judges virtually through Zoom conference from the Killeen school’s lecture hall in March.
At times, students stood in front of their laptops communicating with competition handlers shifting student presenters through virtual rooms.
The unusual competition circumstances built additional anticipation and stress, but students said once they began presenting, they relaxed andconfident.
Ellison High School junior Melany Booth created a card game that allows students to review rhetorical appeals, which are persuasion tactics used in literature.
“I wanted to make something creative,” she said, explaining that she knows students her age can get bored and that an active game can bring an element of fun to learning.
“I’m proud of it,” she said of the printed, laminated cards she made. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it because I get nervous.” Now, she’s preparing to present her card game to national judges.
“It’s a little nerve-racking,” she said. “It will be a good experience.”
Ellison High School junior Kira Bass built a truth or dare game to test student skills in math. “I feel good about it,” she said. “I didn’t expect to make it this far my first time. It’s exciting.”
Harker Heights High School junior Reagan Quinn planned an entire STEM lesson and delivered it to a Nolanville Elementary School fifth-grade class in a virtual platform. Part of the lesson called on students to form a hypothesis and exercise the scientific method to test it.
She trimmed her 45-minute lesson to a 10-minute presentation for the state judges. “I loved it because I was able to connect with students,” Quinn said of her project. “They started feeding off what I was teaching.”
“I am excited. I’m proud I was able to execute it.”
Harker Heights High School junior Hope Greene created an interactive bulletin board to review math for first-graders.
The board features a long, green caterpillar that young children would recognize from a popular book that serves as backdrop for numbers students can move around to work math problems.
The bright, artistic board and cards that children can manipulate are its strength, Greene explained.
Harker Heights High School seniors Catarina Barajas and Kyla Keesorchestrated a service project called “Big Hearts Little Hands” that included donation drives to benefit an organization that serves children in the foster care system.
Kees said her family takes in foster children so she was excited to complete a project that addresses the needs of that population.
The pair of seniors participated last year in the TAFE competition when it occurred in a traditional in-person conference. They said this year’s Zoom version brought new challenges.
“It was new,” said Kees, “and required some discipline on our part. It’s exciting. All our hard work is paying off. There were times we doubted ourselves, but it’s going to pay off.”
“We had to stay flexible because sometimes there was some chaos to work out,” Barajas said. “We pushed really hard for it.”
Harker Heights High School senior Karen Kim joined Barajas and Keesin an exploration of a specified ethical dilemma.
The issue, which was provided as a prompt involved a teacher attempting to secure needed supplies in the midst of a principal’s lack of support. The challenge included racial bias and included parent concerns.
The three students researched legal documents, interviewed educators and presented information to their peers to discuss.
“We had to put our personal biases aside and look at all sides from the standpoint of a principal, teachers and parents,” Kees said.
Harker Heights High School senior Karen Kim also qualified for nationals with an Educators Rising Moment speech. She explained her motivation to pursue a teaching career borne out of her own difficulty as a younger student and how she found motivation from a teacher who believed in her.
Shoemaker High School senior Navaya Burrus-Defellcompeted in the job interview category essentially completing a mock interview for a job as a paraprofessional for an elementary science class.
She said she was not planning to compete, but that teacher Tina Tamplen urged her to do it because of her interviewing skills.
The senior said she was able to describe the job because last year she completed field work at a Killeen ISD elementary school and her academic interest is biology.