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My Residency Experience: Paying it Forward

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As a second-year 5th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Cypress Springs Elementary in Ruston, Louisiana, I know I owe much of my current classroom success to Louisiana's Believe and Prepare program for providing the support and yearlong residency training that prepared me to be the teacher I am today.

I entered the residency program in the summer of 2014 as a "pioneer" of the program. I was a single mom with a two-year-old son, and I was apprehensive because I knew the amount of time and dedication it would require. The decision to participate in the program has been one of the best of my college career.

Over the course of the yearlong residency, the mentor teachers, my fellow residents, and I became a team who grew together. The residency program gave me the full-immersion experience that I needed to be successful. Through co-teaching with my mentor teacher, I learned how to establish classroom procedures. I experienced the first day of school and the last and all that comes between: field trips, holidays, award ceremonies, class parties. I learned professionalism, planning, instruction, and assessment, and I improved my ability to collaborate with my students' families and my colleagues.

Before I even graduated, I had multiple job offers and over 1,000 clinical hours. I was so prepared that it felt great to be in my own classroom. Being hired at my residency school provided a smooth transition into my teaching career with the same support system of mentors surrounding me. As a first year teacher, I scored highly effective on my teaching evaluation.

I am grateful that Lincoln Parish and Louisiana Tech University chose to invest in me.  

I am grateful that Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has ensured that all future teachers will have an experience like mine beginning fall 2018.

And, most importantly, I am grateful to have the opportunity to pay the investment forward to my students--Louisiana's future--and in the coming years thousands of Louisiana's new teachers will be able to as well.

     Shavonda Washington

     Teacher, Cypress Springs Elementary

     Lincoln Parish, Louisiana

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