Ever since I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. That’s the role I’d take when I played “school” with my older sisters. I come from a family of teachers; my mother and two of my aunts were teachers. At the beginning of each school year, I would help my mother organize and decorate her classroom. In high school, I was required to complete an internship program in the career field I was interested in pursuing. I chose to work with a second grade teacher at a local elementary school, two hours each of week of my senior year. I helped her with grading and tutored students in various subjects. It was great to have hands-on practice in the classroom.
It’s not surprising that I became an education major at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). In addition to my regular coursework, I have completed more than two hundred hours of observation, student teaching, and tutoring in local San Antonio schools.
My first year in college, I joined UTSA's Student Council Chapter of the International Reading Association (IRA). I was a member of other student organizations, but I loved the student council the most.
For one thing, there were only two formal meetings a semester, so my involvement didn’t cut into the time I needed to spend on my schoolwork. Each student council meeting features guest speakers, including experts in the education field, such as Dr. Miriam Martinez, an Arbuthnot Award-winning professor specializing in children’s books. I have learned interview etiquette from principals, gotten information about special education programs from teachers in inclusion classrooms, listened to a parent talk about her views of the school system.
Through the student council, I’ve also gotten to take advantage of multiple volunteer opportunities, like helping out at our book fair, working with the San Antonio Writing Project
, and organizing books for a local organization called SA Reads
I began my relationship with SA Reads as a tutor. I would go to a local school and tutor a student who struggled with reading. When I was in middle school, I volunteered in my mother’s classroom, and it really hit me when I realized some of these kids were not read to each night. SA Reads provides tutors for these students to read with once a week as well as books that the students can keep. When I delivered the books to my own tutees, my heart melted when one of the young girls looked up at me and said “It’s really mine?” My love for the student grew and grew as I became more involved with the organization.
Attending meetings and volunteering with the student council encouraged me to consider a leadership position. I became an executive board member during the third year of my college career. My duties included assisting the officers, setting up for meetings, and cleaning up afterward. I jumped at every opportunity to help the student council. I made a tri-fold display for the New Student Involvement Fair, created the organization’s Facebook page
, and helped encourage other UTSA students to join our student council at Involvement Fairs and in my classes.
Then, after serving one semester as an executive board member, I was nominated and elected to be the president. I was honored and thrilled to be the representative of this organization that I care about so much. I immediately began to organize and plan for the semester. I instantly learned about the hard work that goes into running a student organization. Planning meetings, providing snacks, getting meeting dates out to members, and keeping records of current members were just some of the responsibilities I undertook. While it was hard work, I loved that the organization was growing and becoming well known on the UTSA campus, as well as in the education community. As president, I also had to ensure other officers had the necessary information and met with the faculty sponsors for guidance and support. The other officers, executive board members, members, and our advisors were very encouraging and always willing to lend a helping hand.
Throughout my first term as president, I worked hard to maintain the organization’s appeal to other students. It was, after all, one of the reasons I joined—because I knew other students pursuing similar degrees would be interested in the same things as me. My main goal was to make sure that all students studying education knew about our organization and events. I also wanted to make sure that all students had access to the meeting times, locations, and information.
To get the word out, I began creating extra large banners to post at both UTSA campuses. Six-feet tall banners got plenty of attention and it showed as our membership numbers increased. When I looked out at the growing group of students at each of our meetings, my smile kept growing as well. It was astonishing to see our hard work pay off right before my eyes.
I also had another goal, which is to make sure that all officers can easily access our documents, social network pages, and resources that previous officer used. In order to do this, I uploaded all of our documents to Google Drive, which is connected to our organization's Gmail account. I also created folders for the officers, to help them stay organized.
Participating in this student council has really helped me grow as an educator and as a person. I have transformed from that little girl who played “school” into the teacher I was always destined to be.
Regan Sanchez is a fourth year student at The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is studying to become a certified English as a Second Language educator for early childhood through sixth grade students. She is also the President of The International Reading Association Student Council at UTSA. She recently hosted a round table focused on discussing IRA student councils at IRA’s 58th Annual Convention last April.
© 2013 Regan Sanchez. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise. IRA Councils & Affiliates Featured Council: Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE)