A Legacy Begins
When she started teaching in Denton ISD in 2016, Leah Zavala’s passion for teaching students who want to become teachers meshed perfectly with the district’s new Education & Training Internship, known as their “Grow Your Own” teaching initiative.
“I love teaching and I have the privilege to teach students to love it too,” says Zavala. She creates lessons with purpose and gives attention to every detail so that every moment is a teachable moment for her interns. To actively engage her students, she incorporates stories, activities, music, and even costumes, all while teaching content. She asks them questions that challenge them to the higher order of thinking and has them create, evaluate, and apply what they are learning. She tells her students daily, “Don’t you forget this when you become a teacher.”
While teaching the internship classes, she often heard that students were being discouraged to pursue teaching as a career. To encourage them, Zavala also sponsors an active Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE) chapter; her students have competed at the region, state, and national level. She also saw a need for keeping the passion for teaching alive in all grade levels, not just the 11th and 12th graders she teaches. To do so, she created a week-long summer program, called “Future Teacher Academy,” to inspire Denton ISD students in grades 3-11 to become future Texas educators.
Above all, Zavala says, her goal is to inspire the next generation of Texas by building relationships with her students and leaving a legacy. “It is about energizing, encouraging, and engaging students to pursue their passion as a teacher,” she says. “By believing in them, they walk out of my classroom with a new sense of confidence, and they too will change the world one child at a time.” #IAmTXEd