Only in her second year of teaching, Graduate Teaching Fellow, Shontoria Walker, embodies the KIPP philosophy of getting students to and through college.
Shontoria graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and shortly after graduation, attended a career fair where she met a recruiter and was accepted into the Relay Graduate Teaching Fellowship to earn her masters in teaching. Shontoria now has her own classroom in the same area where she grew up. She understands her students’ better than they understand themselves.
Eighth-grade English at an all-boys school comes with its fair share of challenges, especially to a new teacher still trying to learn the ropes.
“I am so thankful I chose to do the Graduate Teaching Fellowship,” Shontoria shared. “They told me at that career fair that I needed to be taught how to teach and they couldn’t have been more right. It has been an amazing experience for me.”
The Graduate Teaching Fellowship prepares teachers to thrive in the classroom.
“It is a lot of work, but it helps tremendously,” Shontoria said. “Even now, I still use the techniques they taught for setting up a classroom culture in such a way that benefits my teaching. Those are things I wouldn’t have thought of without this program.”
Now Shontoria is thriving in her own classroom at Polaris, KIPP’s only all-boys school.
When Shontoria began teaching at Polaris, her class’s reading scores were the lowest of all of their subjects. She really wanted to cultivate a love of reading in her students. Shontoria stood in line at 7am on a Saturday morning to receive crates of books from a donation program. She then had her students rebuild their bookshelf and make their reading space a place they could love. The students are constantly asking when they can check out another book or when they have free time to read.
“I tell my boys every day that their education is something they can control and hold onto,” Shontoria said. “I am from this community and I know the dangers. I want my eighth graders to understand their fate if they don’t work hard every day. That is the number one thing that drives why I teach every day.”