I had the chance to participate in a joy-filled ribbon-cutting celebration at CAST Teach High School. As one of several speakers, I did my best to reflect on the bigger mission of what we hope to accomplish.
My first point was that teaching is an incredible place to begin your education career path, one with countless possibilities.
CAST Schools connect students to the high-wage, high-growth jobs in San Antonio. Education is a cornerstone of San Antonio’s economy; we import thousands of teachers to the public schools of San Antonio every year. That does not include the 11 colleges and universities plus all the training and digital learning offered across companies, and then there is virtual learning on top of that.
The people on this stage with me tonight all started as teachers, and all of us have built incredible careers as educators – as a school board member, coach and university professor, as a superintendent, as a principal, and as a nonprofit leader.
Northside ISD is the largest employer of teachers in the San Antonio region, partnered with our largest public 4-year university. This school district is looking for ways to ensure that you succeed AND that they want to hire you when you graduate. Talk about a virtuous circle.
My second point was that teaching is a magic, one of only a few professions that calls upon us to share our gifts with others.
I remember the first CAST Teach student I met. Olivia Rosas described the first grade teacher who understood the magic of sparking her curiosity, of helping her see her own gifts, and of making her look forward to every day of first grade as a fun and eventful adventure.
If anyone here no longer believes in magic, I wish you could come on a teacher takeover, or see elementary students’ eyes light up when they see older students like Max, Trinity, Christopher- and really every older student- showing up to teach their lessons.
The magic of the best teachers is a little bit of brain science & psychology, a little bit of coach and mentor, a little bit of choreography and director, and a lot of fairy dust. Most books on management recommend that no adult supervise more than ten employees, but you are in charge of many more young minds than that. It is the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding job I have ever held.
My final point was that teaching is world-building, and that is especially true of this extraordinary school.
As the world changes around us, as we incorporate AI and machine learning into everything we do, it is the job of educators to equip young people with the tools to build better teams, to adapt to changing circumstances, to greet the future with optimism and problem solving, and to do so ethically.
At CAST Teach, you are not only becoming that next generation of educators, you are helping us rethink teaching and learning to prepare young people for how our world is changing in a way that is humane and beautiful. As you build a new approach to learning, you are building a new and better world.
Or as Olivia said when I first met her:
“My dreams are just pretty much to make the world a better place, so that anybody can leave their mark on this Earth and for future generations.”