Dallas ISD’s Alternative Certification Program provides pathway to the classroom
First year teacher Gabriela Palacios said teaching has always been a “lifelong dream and passion,” but she was not able to pursue it until she joined Dallas ISD’s Alternative Certification Program in February 2022. By August, she was teaching 10th-grade English at Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center as an ACP intern.
“It’s everything I could have hoped for being here in the classroom,” Palacios said. “It’s definitely been a great learning experience, and my students are just wonderful. They keep me laughing.”
That is not to say the journey has been easy. Palacios described the pacing of the program as “sprinting a marathon,” as she cared for her four children while meeting requirements including 30 hours of observation, 150 hours of professional development and passing content and pedagogy exams before being able to apply for a campus position.
Yet Palacios said she could not be happier with where she ended up and the support she has received from the Dallas ISD ACP team. Not only is tuition free for certifications in critical need areas, but the program’s coordinators are eager to help guide participants through the requirements and each new teacher is assigned a field facilitator, who observes them and provides resources and feedback once they are in the classroom to help them toward their ultimate goal of gaining certification.
“I would definitely recommend the Dallas ISD AC Program to anybody who wants to become a teacher and who wants to make a difference in schools,” Palacios said. “In the end, any goal that is worth achieving is going to require effort and skill, so you really have to be dedicated to putting in that time.”
She learned so much during her time in the program and put those lessons into practice so well that she received an opportunity to present strategies on how to bring writing into the classroom at a webinar through edWeb, an online platform for educators, in November.
“It’s funny because in the summer we had to go to 150 hours of professional development, and I must have done 50 hours alone from edWebs,” Palacios said. “So I had been watching edWebs quite a lot, and then all of a sudden I was one of the people presenting, which was a pretty surreal experience, especially as a first year teacher.”
From empowering her students to become better writers to seeing them have early breakthroughs, Palacios said she is “grateful” for her time in the ACP.
“Dallas ISD is incentivizing teachers to come by offering this program to teachers for free,” she said. “Rather than taking that for granted, I think it’s important to appreciate that this is a huge opportunity. If you have wanted to get into education, but for whatever reason haven’t done it, now would be a good time to join. Be ready for it because it’s a whirlwind experience, but it’s absolutely worth it.”
Learn more about the Alternative Certification Program by visiting https://www.dallasisd.org/altcert and encourage anyone you know who might be interested in making a difference in students’ lives to apply today.