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Nearly 100 Waco ISD teachers boost pay through exceptional support to students

Waco ISD teachers who are growing their students academically, model teaching practices, and go the extra mile to be leaders on campus are being financially rewarded thanks to the Texas Education Agency’s Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA).

Now entering its third year of teachers qualifying for the TIA, Waco ISD had 99 teachers earn the pay raise that can increase teacher pay into six-figure digits and expects additional teachers to qualify during the 2023-2024 school year.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Josie Gutierrez said Waco ISD has many effective teachers in the district. But these teachers believe their students can and will excel academically regardless of their circumstances.

“Teachers who have qualified for the Teacher Incentive Allotment are reflective, set high expectations, and engage in leadership,” Gutierrez said. “Their mindset is to adjust their teaching styles to meet student needs while sharing best practices with other educators.”

Waco High School teacher Shanna Jones creates and posts videos for every direct teaching lesson and utilizes the discussion board feature so students can answer and solve problems, but are able to compare their results to their peers so they are able to learn from each other.

“My number one purpose for teaching is to establish healthy relationships with my students. I come to work for my students. I have a hard time saying no to things because of my students. I make an effort to greet them every day, to find something they are interested in,” Jones said. “I also respect the students for who they are. I do not allow stereotypes to dictate how I interact with a student.”

Crestview Elementary fifth grade teacher Mia Guillen works with students in differentiated small groups.

“Whether we are writing, speaking, or drawing, I make it my mission to allow the different modalities in order to ensure all students find success and express themselves,” Guillen said. “I teach them how to advocate for themselves and how to feel comfortable doing so. I also teach them how to hold adults accountable for following through once they have expressed their needs. It is all about actively listening to the verbal and nonverbal cues our students give us.”

Provident Heights teacher Victoria Nava-Cabrera has students complete interest surveys to connect learning to student interest as she builds relationships.

“Greeting students daily helps set the tone for the day,” she said. “Sometimes a child may not be having the best day. I simply let that child know ‘I see you, I'm here.’ I have lunch time with students, hold morning meetings, get to know their interests, and go to their games or ceremonies outside of school. I always want my students to feel welcomed, safe, and know that I have a genuine interest in them.”

Tennyson Middle School teacher Maryann Middlebrooks uses data from student assessments to see what students have mastered and what still needs refinement.

“Students reflect on how they have been successful and what they still need help with,” Middlebooks said. “Being able to reflect on their learning, students can see that they are successful in some areas and need more practice to achieve understanding in other areas.”

Of the 344,362 Texas teachers who taught in public schools last year, less than two percent earned the allotments. Waco ISD is one of only 179 Texas school districts out of more than 1,000 that had teachers earn the TIA. During the 2021-2022 school year, Waco ISD had 47 teachers qualify with 59 newly designated teachers this school year. Allotments for teachers earning the TIA for the 2022-2023 school year range from $5,000.00-$29,091. Teachers began receiving their allotments this week.