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District celebrates nearly 100 TIA designated teachers

Designee Harris Middle SchoolThis week, 99 San Antonio ISD teachers received a boost in their paychecks. Designated as Recognized, Exemplary, or Master Teachers as part of the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) Program with the Texas Education Agency, they are receiving stipends from $3,800 to $25,000 based on their designation level and the demographics of the campus.


They received these designations, or increases in their existing designations, as part of the district’s Master Teacher Initiative, which provides a framework to document their excellence in the following domains: Classroom Observations & Performance, Student Achievement, and Teacher Leadership & Collaboration.


“I am very grateful to know that my district and my state are recognizing and rewarding not only my work, but the hard work and efforts of many teachers who are making a difference in the lives of others,” Rhonda Garcia, a designated exemplary teacher at Harris Middle School, said. 


TIA was created by the Texas Legislature in 2019 to provide highly effective teachers who want to stay in the classroom with a vertical career trajectory within the profession. 


“Their passion is with kids, and it allows them to stay with their passion,” Tori Austin, Senior Executive Director of the Office of Continuous Improvement, said. “It allows them to be recognized and celebrated for the passion that they bring and the success that they bring to our students.”


SAISD is one of 176 Districts in the State of Texas with approved local designation systems. This group designated in 2022-2023 was the third cohort of SAISD teachers to be approved by the Texas Education Agency for the funding. SAISD currently has 248 designated teachers in 71 of our schools. Designations are awarded for five years and are noted on the teacher’s SBEC certificate, though the amount of funding designated teachers earn varies based on their designation level and the socioeconomic needs at a campus.


Six of the designated teachers are at Cotton Academy. Cotton has three exemplary teachers and three master teachers on its roster, something principal Rawan Hammoudeh says is a huge asset to the campus.


“This supports in building capacity throughout campus,” Hammoudeh said. “Rather than it being only me and the APs trying to support novice teachers or those that are new to our campus, our TIA teachers also serve as point of contact for support.”


Hammoudeh said the designated teachers have also been instrumental in student achievement for Cotton, which received an A rating from the TEA last year.


“TIA teachers are masters of their craft, so they are able to close gaps that are a result of multiple years within a single year, which supports student achievement,” Hammoudeh said.


Parents are noticing, Hammoudeh said. The academic gains, along with teacher stability, are helping her market the school to prospective families. 


Two of the master teachers at Cotton, Sharon Martinez and Adam Rodriguez, together bring more than 40 years of experience to their students, with more than 30 of those logged at Cotton. 


“The program helps with attracting teachers to come and teach here in SAISD in order to work on attaining the designation and we have had the majority of our teachers stay here,” Hammoudeh said. “My TIA-designated teachers are making almost as much as an administrator, so they choose to stay in their current teaching roles.”


And in the classroom is where their passion lies. For Rodriguez, who is entering his 15th year of teaching and his sixth at Cotton, teaching is an opportunity to give back to an education system that poured into him. He has a passion for raising awareness of post-secondary opportunities for his students.


“I love the opportunity that I have to inspire my students — to help them grow and gain confidence in their academics and themselves, being able to provide advice and reassurance as so many teachers did for me,” Rodriguez said. “This designation is placed along my name, but I feel that my name is a representation of all of [those teachers]. Without their support and guidance, I wouldn’t be the educator I am today. I owe them everything.”


Martinez, who has been at Cotton for 28 years, said the campus was helpful to teachers as they pursued the designations, including meaningful feedback during their TTESS appraisal process.  


“The administration team was always very supportive and encouraging,” Martinez said. “They always provided us with observation and feedback and the necessary tools to be a successful teacher.”


Martinez hopes to remain in the classroom and continue to make a difference for her students.


"My new goal is to continue to teach as long as long as I am being effective,” she said. “I want to continue to have a positive impact on as many young lives as possible and intend to help my students be successful academically and in life.”

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