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Take 5 with Sandra Moore

November 11, 2016

Sandra Moore is RISD’s Executive Director of Recruiting, Mentoring, Development & Retention. Her responsibilities include identifying and recruiting the best possible teachers to join, and stay, in RISD.

1. How do you identify the right type of teacher for RISD, and where do you go to find them?
We use a Teacher Profile, developed by current teachers and staff, that describes the type of high-performing, student-focused teacher we’re looking for in RISD. The profile is an initial way that we can determine if a prospective teacher is a fit for RISD, and lets candidates know what the district is seeking.

We recruit teachers from job fairs at most major universities across the state of Texas and our border states. We find a large number of our teachers at our RISD Meet and Greet event that we host each spring. In addition, we host student teachers and teacher observers throughout the school year to increase partnerships with future teachers who are in the last semester of their course work. Students from UNT, SMU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and UT are our top five most frequently hired. Another incredible resource for RISD is our Grow Your Own Program.

2. Tell us more about the Grow Your Own program. How many current RISD teachers return to teach after being students?
The Grow Your Own program is an incentive program developed as part of RISD’s Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum designed to expose students to the teaching profession. RISD currently has 116 junior and senior students enrolled in this elective course, where they begin learning how to be a teacher. They can eventually intern three to five days a week in an RISD elementary or junior high to gain hands-on experience about the teaching profession.

If the students complete all requirements of the Grow Your Own program, which include completing their college degree in an education-related area, they are eligible for an open contract of employment with RISD once they become a certified teacher. This year fifty eight RISD graduates returned as teachers, librarians, or counselors, and twenty two of these graduates participated in an RISD “Grow Your Own” program.

Many of RISD’s top teachers attended RISD schools as students and have returned. We’re excited about Growing Our Own and offering a path for our talented students to become talented educators.

3. How competitive is it among school districts to attract quality teachers, and how do you cut through the noise for teachers to consider RISD?
North Texas is a highly competitive market to attract and retain teachers. We work diligently to evolve with the constant changes of generations and be an employer of choice by offering a supportive work culture, outstanding professional development, competitive salaries and benefits, and updated facilities and equipment provided through the support of our active and engaged community that recently approved the largest bond package in RISD’s history.

We also offer multiple career pathways, leadership development opportunities, teaching stipends for high-need areas, and a mentoring program for teachers new to the profession. We want talented teachers to not only choose RISD, but stay and grow here.

4. What advice do you have for a young person interested in a career in education, or for a person considering a career switch into teaching?
I advise future teachers seeking a career in education to find an area or grade level they are passionate about and pursue that passion. Careers in education are powerful and rewarding, yet can also be challenging and require commitment. I would look for a school and district where I feel a positive culture when I walk in, and a thriving, student-focused environment where kids excel.

5. What support is provided to teachers after they make the decision to join RISD, and how can RISD keep our teachers in the district?
Teachers new to the profession in RISD are paired with an experienced mentor teacher for their first two years. Mentors are trained to effectively support and guide other professional educators, drawing on their experiences and successes. The Richardson Promotes Mentoring Program, or RPM, helps new teachers get a positive start by equipping them with skills, tools, and inside tips they need to succeed. Mentors become a trusted sounding board and problem-solving partner for new teachers, also serving as a cheerleader and encourager. We want our new teachers to know they are not alone, and the RPM program is one way to achieve that.

Our teachers will stay if they feel appreciated and respected for the work that they do. Effective leadership and relationships rank high on the list of factors impacting teacher retention. We work to promote positive relationships every day, and we share ONE Vision: growth for all students and staff.

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