PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (October 5, 2020) – Held annually on October 5, World Teacher’s Day marks an occasion to recognize the power of education, mark progress, and reflect on ways to overcome the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession. This year, those challenges and opportunities are vaster than ever in light of COVID-19.
Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) is proud to produce teachers who set out to guide, inspire, and educate the next generation. TaKiyah Lewis ‘12, who currently serves as dean of instruction for Arlington Independent School District and the founder and CEO of BK Interventions, an educational consulting company, shares her perspective on teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lewis notes that while teaching during a pandemic has undoubtedly been stressful, it has provided new growth opportunities.
“I believe the pandemic was the push educators needed to integrate more technology into classrooms,” she said. “To prepare our kids for the next level, we have to teach at the next level. While that growth may not feel good right now, it is preparing us for the current and next generations to come.”
COVID-19 is affecting students both inside and outside the classroom.
“A matter we must address is maximizing virtual learning and student growth,” she said. “I believe that the current societal working-class structure that we operate in is dismantling as corporations, in addition to school districts, are realizing that traditional life does not revolve around the 9-5 work schedule. This is something that we must address as educators because this is an issue that impacts our children.”
Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from PVAMU in 2012 and a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership from Concordia University-Texas, as well as a principal’s certification in 2016. In her teaching experience, a strategy that never fails is building relationships.
“As Professional Educator Rita Pierson said, ‘kids don’t learn from teachers they don’t like,’” Lewis said. “It is my philosophy that all students can learn, and it’s my responsibility to figure out their learning style to ignite their love for learning and create future PVAMU panthers.”
According to Lewis, a great teacher must learn and know their students and their content.
“I must first learn about my learners — what motivates them, which part of the learning cycle is difficult for them, when to guide and coach, and when to give them an opportunity to practice independently,” she said. “Teachers mold and invest in the next generation despite the odds stacked against them. With very little resources, we pour into at-risk students from impoverished areas and transform them into doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, community leaders, and, most importantly, other teachers.”
To this day, Lewis still keeps up with the PVAMU professors and coaches that influenced her life.
“I thank them every chance I’m able because they loved on me with great instruction regardless of my sophomoric moments,” she said. “They saw attributes in me that I didn’t even know I possessed and spoke to the ‘future me.’”
Lewis considers teaching to be a great responsibility that she is blessed to inherit. Last year, she was awarded ‘Teacher of the Year’ by the Fort Worth Area Alliance of Black School Educators.
“There are no words to express how humbling it is to be honored by the very leaders you admire,” she said. “The same organization awarded me with a partial scholarship to attend PVAMU my freshman year, so to be presented with another award, later on, was extremely rewarding.”
This year, Lewis was approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to host professional developments and workshops that aim to grow state educators.
“I achieved this by completing an extensive application process with the state, maintaining an excellent work history, and receiving the highest rating on my pedagogy and instructional practice for the last three years of my classroom experience,” she said. “Texas requires that educators receive 150 hours of continued professional education. As a master teacher, I’m able to develop educators and award our required hours. I’m thrilled that TEA deemed me qualified to teach every teacher in Texas, and I can’t wait to partner with every district, charter, and private school in our nation.”
While work ethic plays a huge factor in the success we attain in life, Lewis says it’s important to recognize the help we get from great teachers, role models, and mentors.
“There are so many instances where I was awarded opportunities solely because of the great people that have helped me grow me to new heights,” she said.
Lewis encourages the community to visit their nearest elementary, middle, or high school and pursue ways to improve public education.
“Join the PTA, attend school functions and forums, or volunteer to read with a learner once a week,” she said. “We never know who we are indirectly molding just by presence alone. Far too many do not have an example of greatness, so that is what I charge you with. Until all are taught, each one can teach one.”
By Kendall Hebert