Ten Charles Butt Scholar alumni, now first and second-year teachers, share their struggles, victories, and learnings a few months into the 2020-21 school year. These new Texas teachers find inspiration in their profession, and in the process, inspire us. Explore the full Q&A portfolio.

Q What does your teaching life look like right now, and how are you handling it?

A It is definitely not as I expected it would be, however, just as rewarding as I imagined. It is very tough to work with students who face internet problems or just can’t seem to concentrate due to the distractions found in their home. I have days where I am very stressed, but others where I love what I do and look forward to seeing the kids, even if it is online.

Q What should Texans know about what is happening currently in public schools?

A Texans should know that expectations for teachers have not been lowered despite working during a pandemic. On the contrary, I believe they are higher than ever because we do so much more than before. Standardized testing is a big influence on Texas schools, and it has not gone away. Teachers are still trying to teach and prepare their students as much as possible for the end-of-the-year exams, and it has gotten extremely hard due to our current situation.

Q Can you share one recent moment or memory that encapsulates your experience or communicates what is most meaningful about your job right now?

A I had a time in which a mother sent me a message where she just wanted to tell me that my hard work is not unnoticed and that she appreciates all that I do for the kids and her son. To me, that served as reassurance that I was doing my job well and that no matter how hard things get, I cannot give up because they depend on me.

Q How has your education prepared you for this moment?

A I think no education prepares you for teaching during a pandemic. Although, being a Charles Butt Scholar enabled me to be in the UTRGV Step Up program, which immersed me in a school classroom for an entire year. That experience definitely prepared me well enough to tackle my first year in the classroom, yet working with students online for a whole day, never seeing them in person, and preparing to teach with two monitors is something no amount of education can prepare me for.

Q Given the good, bad, and ugly of 2020-21, what do you love about teaching right now?

A I love that despite never seeing my students in person, I still have meaningful connections with them. I love to see them learn and get good grades even though online learning is tough for them. I enjoy seeing them every day, even if it is through a computer, and I look forward to seeing them in person someday.