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Future Educators Academy Students Win 3rd at Nationals



Waco ISD’s Future Educators Academy claimed national honors with the team of University High School students Nahyeli Villa, Kentavia Dotson-Duffey, and Isela Martinez placing third in the “Inside Our Schools Presentation” category at the Educators Rising National Competition. Held in Orlando, Florida, June 29-July 2, this national competition involves students showcasing an innovative strategy that their school or district is using to enhance teaching and learning. 


Competing against 52 other teams from across the country, the Waco ISD trio produced a video to showcase the district’s implementation of a “Grow Your Own” teacher program, which starts with the Future Educators Academy. 


Entering its second year of implementation in Waco ISD, the Academy addresses a critical career and technical education pathway for developing and retaining a diverse teacher workforce to support student success. Students in the Academy have the opportunity to earn an associate degree upon graduation from high school and transition directly into a two-year bachelor’s degree program to achieve their teaching certificate thanks to partnerships with McLennan Community College, Tarleton State University and Texas Tech University. 


Off to a strong start, 46 students participated in the first year with a total 80 students enrolled in the Academy for the upcoming school year.  


“We started discussing the program as a strategy to address teacher turnover in the fall of 2019, just prior to the pandemic. We had no idea that the pandemic would hit and increase the demand for certified teachers. The timing was incredible,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon. “We know that college graduates who have grown up in our community are more likely to stay with us. The Future Educators Academy helps our students reach their goals while giving the district a future pipeline of local teachers for years to come. It’s exciting to envision these students working in our classrooms. I am so proud of them.”


Students who qualify can take dual enrollment courses through McLennan Community College, allowing them a pathway to obtain an associate degree while still in high school.