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TechTeach Prepares IECHS Students for Success in the Classroom

TechTeach, an intensive and competency-based program, prepares IECHS students to make a difference in the classroom. 

At Infinity Early College High School, students have many opportunities available to them as they graduate high school with not only their diploma, but also their associate’s degree. For students who wish to pursue a career in teaching, the TechTeach program, an innovative teacher preparation program created by the College of Education at Texas Tech University, is available through partnerships with Lone Star College and New Caney ISD. 

“We are growing our own,” Infinity Early College High School Principal Trish Beal said. “They enter this program as a graduated senior, go through the program, and by age 19, they have their teaching certification and are in the classroom.” 

When IECHS students enter into the TechTeach program, they are automatically enrolled into Texas Tech’s Fast Track program, which allows teacher candidates to complete both their student teaching and upper-level coursework in one fast-paced and clinically-intensive year. During this year, students take a full course load, spread out between summer semesters, fall and spring, and several minimesters. They are also student-teaching four days a week, where they bear the responsibilities of any other campus employee. 

“The great thing about the Fast Track program is that it does a really good job of giving you the real world of teaching,” Texas Tech Recruiter and Advisor Dr. Yvonne Khan said. “Teaching is fast and furious, and it is very challenging when they are throwing several things at you. The Fast Track program, to me as an educator of over 32 years, does an excellent job of preparing students for the real world of teaching.” 

Dogwood Elementary Media Specialist, Martha Santibanez, has worked in New Caney ISD since her graduation from IECHS in 2017 as both a teacher and now a media specialist. She discovered her love for teaching prior to her graduation by volunteering through IECHS at NCISD summer school sessions, working with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. She explained that not only did the low cost and fast-pace of the TechTeach program appeal to her, but the opportunities available through IECHS did as well. 

     Martha Sanitbanez, Media Specialist at Dogwood Elementary

“I think the plethora of opportunities New Caney offers graduates who are going into teaching is a lot to consider versus going to a university and having to find a new district,” Santibanez said. “[IECHS] gave us a lot of opportunities to pursue teaching. Going through Lone Star, I was able to finish my Associate of Arts in Teaching. I have my master’s now, and it was online. I feel like IECHS really prepared me because it gave me the chance to learn that I can take online classes and pass them, and how to reach out when I need help.”  

Sawyer Wallace, a 2023 IECHS graduate and current student-teacher at Keefer Crossing Middle School, agrees that the opportunities available through IECHS were an integral part of his decision to pursue teaching. 

“I thought Infinity did really well preparing me to become a teacher,” Wallace said. “I worked with my advisor, Dr. Yvonne Khan, since my sophomore year, and that really helped me transition from high school to the TechTeach program.” 

     Sawyer Wallace, Student-Teacher at Keefer Crossing Middle School 

Wallace explained that the help he received during his time at IECHS eased the transition from high school to college and solidified his decision to become a teacher. Dr. Jimenez-Pabon, his education teacher, helped him explore the field and see how education works.

“From Dr. Khan to Dr. Jimenez, they really helped me want to become a teacher, and the IECHS program helped me get the associate’s degree and experience,” Wallace said. 

While at IECHS, Wallace had the opportunity to volunteer with KCMS teacher and TechTeach alum, Ashley Bennett. Bennet, while not an IECHS graduate, was part of the first cohort of TechTeach students in 2015. 

“I was actually at Lone Star working on getting my Associate of Arts in Teaching when the district started the TechTeach program,” Bennet explained. 

Since finishing the TechTeach program, Bennett has taught at multiple campuses in NCISD including Tavola Elementary, Dogwood Elementary, and now Keefer Crossing Middle School as an ELA teacher. During her time as a teacher she has stayed connected to the program by mentoring multiple student teachers that are interested in or participating in TechTeach. As a graduate of the TechTeach program, she feels that she can provide a unique perspective to the student-teachers in her class. 

       Ashley Bennet, English Language Arts Teacher at Keefer Crossing Middle School 

“I really feel that I can solidify what they are learning through Tech into the classroom by walking them through some of the processes and giving them insight to the things that may not be taught in the program,” Bennet said. 

When asked if they would recommend the TechTeach program to students interested in teaching, the answer was a resounding “yes.” 

“It is a lot of long nights and fast days, but the year goes by so quickly,” Santibanez said. “Infinity gives you the opportunity to experience a lot of things, and I would say to take advantage of that. Once you’re done and in the classroom, you get to change lives every day, so go for it.” 

Although the TechTeach program is intense, the real-world experience is invaluable. 

“I would say that this program truly lets you see what’s going on in the classroom while you are learning about what’s going on in the classroom,” Bennett said. “This program lets you experience it, lets you get your hands in it. You are being treated as a teacher, which is the best way to learn. I’m really grateful for the program and what New Caney offered. I’m so thankful I was a part of it.”