Some 250 Socorro Independent School District high school students who are part of the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE) competed for the 11th year in a row at the Regional 19 TAFE Competition at UTEP’s College of Education.
The event, held in late November, included 20 categories, including two levels of children’s literature, exploring education administration careers and STEM lesson planning and delivery. Students competed as solos, duos and in teams of up to four based on the category.
“I want to be a middle school teacher, so being a part of this helps me gain experience and insight for my future career,” said Alondra Morales, a senior at Eastlake High School who competed in the children’s literature category. She created a children’s book with her partner for the competition.
“I really enjoy that I get to meet new people, gain confidence and learn,” Morales said.
Some 50 UTEP College of Education professors judged the contest based on the state’s education standards and curriculum. As part of the competition, the SISD students presented in front of a classroom full of college students.
The students who placed first have advanced to the state competition in February where they will compete against some 250 TAFE groups from across Texas. If they advance at the state level, students can compete at the national contest in June in Washington D.C.
“These students are getting some real-life experience in teaching, in talking to other educators and also getting to network with students who have the same goals as them to become educators,” said Melissa Haggerty, a teacher and TAFE advisor at Socorro High School.
Students in TAFE can gain paraprofessional skills, take part in internships, and earn a CPR certification regardless of what career path they end up pursuing, whether it is education or something else.
This year, the TAFE competition incorporated College Alley where UTEP set up tables of its colleges, as well as admissions, and students got to check on their admission status, fill out applications and go over their degree plans.
“I hope this is something that will continue, especially for our seniors,” said Logan Thomas, Americas High School TAFE sponsor, about the addition of College Alley. “It was eye opening for our students and it got them really excited.”