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Three Graduates Start Their Careers at Same Elementary School in Aldine ISD

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JULY 9, 2014 – During their last semester at The University of Texas at Brownsville, education majors Pamela Pontvione, Olga Robles and Itzel Cortina attended the Spring 2014 Teacher Job Fair held by the Office of Career Services.

The three students were in the final semester of their undergraduate studies, soon to receive their Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Early Childhood – 6th Grade Bilingual Generalist.

“When we walked into the Gran Salon, the room was buzzing,” Robles said. “We couldn’t believe how in demand we were. The recruiters were pulling out contracts, ready for us to sign commitments to their school districts.”

Juan Andres Rodriguez-Nieto, Program Director for Career Services, said the teacher job fairs hosted by Career Services are always well attended by recruiters from throughout Texas and sometimes drawing representatives from out of state.

Pamela Pontvione, Olga Robles and Itzel Cortina will begin their teaching careers at Aldine’s Bussey Elementary School.Pamela Pontvione, Olga Robles and Itzel Cortina will begin their teaching careers at Aldine’s Bussey Elementary School.

“Our Spring Teacher Job Fair brought in recruiters from 40 Texas school districts,” Rodriguez-Nieto said. “These recruiters know the vast majority of our elementary education graduates are bilingual certified, or they are bilingual speakers and/or English as a Second Language certified. Also, the College of Education at UTB requires education graduates to have achieved their Texas Educator Certification before they can receive their diploma; this is a big plus, because a school system knows they are eligible for immediate hire.”

Pontvione, who had already decided to continue her studies and start working on her master’s degree in the fall, said she took a friend’s advice and went to the job fair just to practice interviewing.

“It was wild, the recruiters were really fishing, tossing out their lines and trying to hook as many as possible,” Pontvione said. “When I realized how many options were available all over the state, that I could take my pick, I reconsidered my plan, thinking it would be better to take a job now and start on my master’s degree in a few years.”

Later that evening, as the three were working on an assignment in the library, they discussed their experiences at the job fair – and made a big decision. They crafted an email to the recruiters from Aldine Independent School District saying they had a particular interest in Aldine, and if there were three open positions at the same school, they would all three sign contracts with Aldine ISD.

“We were in our last semester of a demanding program, and after working so hard to obtain our education degrees, we didn’t want August to roll around and to be stuck without a full-time classroom position,” Cortina said. “We knew we needed to be proactive or we might have no choice but to find jobs as paraprofessionals or as substitute teachers.”

The trio’s final months toward their degrees were particularly challenging. Aside from their 16 weeks of practice teaching, they were enrolled in their last two courses, had to submit their lesson portfolios, and were required to pass the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES) to become teacher certified.

“We all felt the same way; we thought it would be best for us to line up jobs for the fall, to know we had something of our choosing waiting for us, rather than to take our chances,” Robles said.

Robles, Cortina and Pontvione said they were reassured knowing each will be assigned a mentor who will provide a constant support system throughout their first year.

“The Aldine school district is excited about having Itzel, Pamela and Olga join the team,” said Dr. Robin Williams, Aldine ISD Director of Human Resources (EC/PK and Elementary). “UT Brownsville has done a wonderful job preparing these young ladies for their first teaching assignment. Their knowledge of the teaching profession is insightful, and I look forward to watching their journey as they navigate through their first year of teaching.”

The group also found the salary offered by Aldine to be extremely attractive. This spring, the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new starting salary of $50,000; added to that, the bilingual certification stipend is $4,500.

Further appeal for Cortina, Pontvione and Robles to select Aldine, it is an easy six-hour drive from Brownsville. Another reason, all three have extended family members in the greater Houston area.

“It will be hard to leave our families, but we all have cousins in and around Houston, so we can enjoy seeing them, and it will be reassuring to know they’re around if we ever need anything,” Robles said. “And we are all looking forward to the change, from living in a relatively small community to the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country. We’ll definitely have lots to explore on weekends.”

For more information on careers in education, visit College of Education or Office of Career Services or call 956-882-5627.


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